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CMfrnuM— The Right Hon. LORD BROUGHAM, P. R.S., Monb. Nat. 

Iiut. of France. 

Vict CAotrman— JOHN WOOD, E»q. 

TrMiurn— WILLIAM TOOICB, Esq., F.R.S. 

W. Allen, Eaq, F.R. « R.A.$. 
Capt. Beaufort, K.N., F.R. & 

R.A.S., Hjrdrographet to the 

<i. Burrows, M.D. 
Peter Staiford Carcy,E»q.A.M. 
William Coulson, Esq, 
R. D. Craig, Esq. 
J. F. Davis, Esq., F.R.S. 
H.T. DelB Beclic, Esq., F.R.S. 
The Right Hon. Lord Denman. 
Samuel Duckworih, E»q.,M.F. 
B. P. Duppa, Esq. 
The Right Rev. the Bishop of 

Durham, D.D. 
Sir Henry Ellis, Prin. Lib. 

Brit. Mus. 
T.F.Ellis, Esq., A.M., F.R.A.S. 
John Elliotson, M.D., F.R.S. 
George Evans, Esq., M.F. 
Thomas Falconer, Esq. 
1. L. Goldsmid, Esq., F.R. and 

Francis Henry Goldsmid, Esq. 
B. Gompertz, Esq., F.R. and 

G. B. Greenough, Esq., F.R. 

and L.S. 
M. D. Hill, Esq. 
Rowland Hill, Esq., F.R.A.S. 
Right Hon. Sir J. C. Hobhouse, 

Burt, M.P. 
David Jardine, Esq., A.M. 
Henry B. Kcr, Esq. 

Thomas Hewitt Key, Esq., A.M. 
George C. Lewis Esq., A.M. 
Thomas Henry Lister, Esq. 
James Loch, Esq., M.P.. 

Geoi^e Long, Esq., M.A. 
Sir Frederick Madden, K.C.H. 
H. Maiden. Esq., A.M. 
A. T. Malkin, Esq., A.M. 
James Manning, Esq, 
R. J. Miirchison, Esq., F.R.S., 

The Rieht Hon. Lord Nugent. 
Wm. Smith O'Brien, Esq., 

The Right Hon. Sir Henry 

Pamell, Bt., M.P. 
Dr. Roget, Sec. R.S., F.R.A.S. 
Edward Romillv, Esq., A.M. 
The Right Hon. Lord John 

Russell, M.P, 
Sir M. A. .'!hee, P.R.A., F.R.S. 
John Abel Smith, Esq. M.P. 
The Right Hon. Earl Spencer. 
John Taylor, Esq., F.H.S 
Dr. A. T.Thomson, F.L.S. 
Thomas Vnrdon, Esq. 
H. Wavmouih, Esq. 
J. Whi'shaw, Esq., A.M., F.R.S. 
John Wiottesley, Esq., AM,, 

Thomas Wyse, Esq., M.P. 
J. A. Yates, Esq., M.P. 











I'iiut(!«1 by W. Clowes and Sons, 

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SUMERS ...•..•.! 

Penn . . . . . . . . 18 

Addison 33 

Marlborough ....... 46 

Wren .60 

Peter the Great 74 

Newton . . . . . . . .90 

Defoe . . ... . . . 105 

Bentley ., . .119 

Halley 134 

Pope .146 

Swift 160 

Daguesseau . . . . . . . .172 

Handel • 187 

Dollond 200 

Bradley .210 

Hogarth 219 

Brindley 230 

Hume 240 


Harrison . . • • 
Rousseau • . • • • 




Lord Chatham 273 

Linnaeus ..•••••* 

•ir ^, ■ ... 302 

Voltaire ,..••••• 

Cook 21' 

Turgot . . • • • 

D'Alembert ..••••' 

^ , 345 

Euler ...•••• 

T u .... 352 

Johnson ..••••• 

Frederic II. ••••••* * 

■D «. .... 380 

LaPerouse '^^^ 

DelEpee ^^ 

FrankUn "^^^ 

Smith ,426 


Wesley ...•••• 

Arkwright ^^ 


Mozatt ...•••• 

Rodney ^^^ 

Reynolds '^^^ 

^Smeafon ^^^ 

^ John Hunter ^^^ 



John Somers was bom at Worcester, in an ancient 
house called the White Ladies, which, as its name 
seems to import, had formerly been part of a monas- 
tery or convent. The exact date of his birth cannot 
be ascertained, as the parish registers at Worcester, 
during the civil wars between Charles I. and his 
Parliament, were either wholly lost, or so inaccu- 
rately kept as not to furnish any authentic informa- 
tion. It appears probable, however, from several 
concurring accounts, that he was born about the 
year 1650. The family of Somers was respectable," 
though not wealthy, and had for several generations 
been possessed of an estate at Clifton, in the parish 
of Severnstoke, in Gloucestershire. Admiral Sir 

vol.. HI. B 


George Somers, who in the reign of James I. was 
shipwrecked on the Bermudas, and afterwards died 
there, leaving his name to that cluster of islands, is 
said by Horace Walpole, in his ' Catalogue of Royal 
and Noble Authors,' to have been a member of the 
same family. The father of Somers was an attor- 
ney, in respectable practice at Worcester ; who, in 
the civil wars, became a zealous Parliamentarian, 
and commanded a troop in Cromwell's army. 

Of the early education of Somers, we have only 
a meagre and unsatisfactory account. The house 
called the "White Ladies, in which he was born, was 
occupied by a Mr. Blurton, an eminent clothier of 
Worcester, who had mamed liis father's sister. 
This lady, having no son of her own, adopted 
Somers from his birth, and brought him up in her 
house, which he always considered as his home till 
he went to the university. He appears for some 
years to have been a day-scholar in the college 
school at Worcester, which before his time had 
attained a high character for classical education, 
under the superintendence of Dr. Bright, a clergy- 
man of great learning and eminence. At a subse- 
quent period, we find him at a private school at 
Walsall in Staffordshire ; he is described by a 
school-fellow as being then " a weakly boy, wearing 
a black cap, and never so much as looking out when 
the other boys were at play." He seems indeed 
to have been a remarkably reserved and " sober- 
blooded" boy. At a somewhat later period Sir F. 
Winnington says of him, that " by the exactness of 
liis knowledge and behaviour, he discouraged his 
father and all the young men that knew him. They 
were afraid to be in his company." In what man- 
ner his time was occupied from the period of his 
leaving school until he went to the university, 
unknown. It has been suggested that lie was em 



ployed for several years in his father's office, who 
designed him for his own department of the profes- 
sion of the law. There is no positive evidence of 
this circumstance, though the conjecture is by no 
means improbable. It cannot, however, be doubted 
that, during this period, he devoted much of his 
time to the study of history and the civil law, and 
laid in a portion of that abundant store of consti- 
tutional learning which afterwards rendered him the 
ornament of his profession, and of the age in which 
he lived. About this time also he formed several 
connexions, which had great influence upon his 
subsequent success in life. The estates of the Earl 
of Shrewsbury were managed by Somers's father ; 
and as that young nobleman had no convenient resi- 
dence of his own in Worcestershire, he spent much 
of his time at the White Ladies, and formed an 
intimate friendship and familiarity with young 
Somers. In 1672 he was also fortunate enough to 
be favourably noticed by Sir Francis Winnington, 
then a distinguished practitioner at the English bar, 
who was under obligations to his father for his 
active services in promoting his election as a Mem- 
ber of Parliament for the city of Worcester. Win- 
nington is described by Burnet as a lawyer who had 
" risen from small beginnings, and from as small a 
proportion of learning in his profession, in which he 
was rather bold and ready, than able." It is natu- 
ral to suppose that such a man, feeling his own 
deficiencies, would readily perceive with what advan- 
tage he might employ the talents and industry of 
Somers in assisting him both in Westminster Hall 
and in Parliament. It was probably with this 
intention that Winnington advised him to go to the 
university, and to prosecute his studies with a view 
to being called to the bar. 

In 1674 Somers was entered as a Commoner of 



Trinity College, Oxford, being then about three-and- 
twenty years of age. The particulars of his progress 
through the university are not recorded ; but here, 
as at school, his contemporaries could perceive few 
indications of those splendid talents which after- 
wards raised him to such extraordinary eminence. 
His college exercises, some of which are still extant, 
are said to have been in no respect remarkable ; and 
he quitted the university without acquiring any aca- 
demical honours beyond his Bachelor's degree. Mr. 
Somers was called to the bar in 1676, by the Society 
of the Middle Temple ; but he continued his resi- 
dence at the university for several years afterwards, 
and did not remove to London until the year after 
his father's death, in 1681, upon which event he 
succeeded to liis paternal estate at Severnstoke. 
During his residence at Oxford he had the advan- 
tage of being introduced by the Earl of Shrewsbury 
and Sir F. Wilmington to many of the patriotic 
opponents of the arbitrary measures of the Court. 
At this time he published several tracts, whicli suffi- 
ciently displayed to the world his familiar and accu- 
rate knowledge of constitutional history. His first 
acknowledged work was the Report of an Election 
Case, and is entitled ' Tlie Memorable Case of 
Denzil Onslow, Esq., tried at the Assizes in Surrey, 
July 20, 1681, touching his election at Haslemere in 
Surrey.' His next performance was 'A Brief History 
of the Succession, collected out of the Records and 
the most authentic Historians.' This work was 
written at the time when the proposal to bring in a 
Bill to exclude the Duke of York from the succession 
occupied universal attention, and excited the most 
intense interest. The object of Mr. Somers's tract 
was to exhibit the principles upon which the Parlia- 
ment of England has authority to alter, restrain, 
and qualify the right of succession to the Crown : 


and he places the historical arguments in support of 
this proposition in a forcible and convincing light. 
Indeed, though it might be difficult to justify such a 
proposition by abstract arguments upon what is 
called the theory of the British Constitution, it has 
been so repeatedly acted upon in several periods of 
our history, that even in the time of Charles II. the 
practice had, as Somers justly contended, to all 
intents and purposes established and sanctioned the 
principle. An excellent tract upon the same subject, 
entitled' Ajust and modest Vindication of the two last 
Parliaments,' which appeared shortly after the break- 
ing up of the Oxford Parliament in March, 1681, 
has been partly ascribed to Somers. Burnet says 
that this tract, which he characterizes as " the best 
Avrit paper in all that time," was at first penned by 
Algernon Sidney, but that a new draught was made 
by Somers, which \yas corrected by Sir William 
Jones. Upon occasion of the attempt of the Court 
party in 1681, by the illegal examination of wit- 
nesses under the direction of the King's Counsel in 
open court, to induce a grand jury at the Old Bailey 
to find a true bill for high treason against the Earl 
of Shaftsbury, Mr. Somers wrote his celebrated 
tract entitled ' The Security of Englishmen's Lives, 
or the Trust, Power, and Duty of the Grand Juries 
of England explained.' Of this work. Bishop Burnet 
says, " It passed as Avrit by Lord Essex, though I 
understood afterwards it was writ by Somers, who 
was much esteemed, and often visited by Lord Essex, 
and who trusted himself to him, and writ the best 
papers that came out in that time." In later times, 
this work has been universally ascribed to Somers. 
During his residence at Oxford, Somers was not 
inattentive to polite literature ; he published a trans- 
lation of some of Ovid's Epistles into English verse, 
which at the same time that it shows that he could 


never have borne so distinguished a rank as a poet, 
as he afterwards attained as a lawyer and statesman, 
is by no means a contemptible performance. His 
translations from Ovid, and a version of Plutarch's 
Life of Alcibiades, are the only published proofs of 
his classical studies at Oxford. 

In the year 1682 he removed to London, and im- 
mediately commenced an assiduous attendance upon 
the courts of law, which at that time was considered 
as the highway of the legal profession. Under the 
powerful patronage of Sir Francis Winnington, who 
had been Solicitor-General, and was then in the full 
stream of business, he rose with considerable rapidity 
into good practice at the bar. In 1683 he appeared 
as junior counsel to Winnington, in the defence to 
an important political prosecution instituted against 
Pilkington and Shute, with several other persons, 
for a riot at the election of sheriffs for the city of 
London. His emplojnnent in a case of so much 
public expectation may be taken as a proof that at 
that time his professional merits were in some degree 
appreciated : and in the reign of James II. his prac- 
tice is said to have produced i*700 a-year, which at 
that time was a very large income for a common 
lawyer of five years' standing. But such was the 
character for research and industry which he had 
attained within a very few years from the commence- 
ment of his professional career, that on the trial of 
the Seven Bishops in 1688, he was introduced as 
counsel into that momentous cause at the express 
and peremptory recommendation of PoUexfen, one of 
the greatest lawyers of that day. The rank of the 
defendants, the personal interest of the King in the 
question at issue, the general expectation excited by 
this conflict amongst all classes of the people, and 
above all, the event of the prosecution which drove 
James from his throne and kingdom, and immediately 


introduced the Revolution of 1688, render the trial 
of the Seven Bishops one of the most important 
judicial proceedings that ever occurred in West- 
minster Hall. It was no trifling testimony, there- 
fore, to the high estimation in which Somers was 
held by experienced judges of professional merit, that 
he should be expressly selected by the counsel for 
the defendants to bear a part in the defence. We 
are told that upon the first suggestion of Somers' 
name, " objection was made amongst the Bishops 
to him, as too young and obscure a man ; but old 
PoUexfen insisted upon him, and would not be him- 
self retained without the other ; representing him as 
the man who would take most pains and go deepest 
into all that depended on precedents and records*." 
How far the leading counsel for the Bishops were 
indebted to the industry and research of Somers, for 
the extent of learning displayed in their admirable 
arguments on that occasion, cannot now be ascer- 
tained; his own speech, as reported in the State 
Trials, contains a summary of the constitutional 
reasons against the existence of a dispensing power 
in the King, expressed in clear and unaffected lan- 
guage, and applied with peculiar skill and judgment 
to the defence of his clients. 

The intimate connexion of Somers with the lead- 
ers of that political party by whom the Revolution 
was effected, and in particular with his early friend 
Lord Shrewsbury, leaves little room for doubt that 
he was actively employed in devising the means by 
which that important event was brought about. It 
is said by Tindal that he was admitted into the most 
secret councils of the Prince of Orange, and was one 
of those who planned the measure of bringing him 
over to England. Immediately upon the flight of 
* Kenuet's Complete History, vol. iii. p. 513, n. 


James II., the Prince of Orange, by the advice of 
the temporary assembly which he had convened as 
the most proper representative of the people in the 
emergency of the time, issued circular letters to the 
several counties, cities, and boroughs of England, 
directing them to summon a Parliamentary Con- 
vention. On this occasion Mr. Somers was returned 
as a representative by his native city of Worcester. 
We find him taking a conspicuous part in the long 
and laborious debates which took place in that as- 
sembly respecting the settlement of the government. 
Upon a conference \\'ith the Lords upon the resolu- 
tion, " that James II. having withdrawn himself out 
of the kingdom had abdicated the government, and 
that the throne had thereby become vacant," Mr. 
Somers spoke at great length, and Avith much learn- 
ing, in support of the original resolution against 
some amendments proposed by the Lords. This 
resolution having been ultimately adopted by both 
Houses of Parliament, and the Prince and Princess 
of Orange having been declared King and Queen 
of England, a committee was appointed, of which 
Somers was a member, to bring in heads of such 
things as were necessary for securing the Protestant 
religion, the laws of the land, and the liberties of the 
people. The Report of this Committee, which was 
a most elaborate performance, having been submitted 
to the examination of a second committee, of which 
Somers was chairman, formed the substance of the 
Declaration of Rights which was afterwards assented 
to by the King and Queen and both Houses of Par- 
liament, and thus adopted as the basis of the Con- 

It is impossible to ascertain with precision the 
particular services rendered by Somers in the accom- 
plishment of this great measure. There was perhaps 


no individual at that moment in existence who was 

so well qualified to lend important aid in conducting 
his country with safety through the difficulties and 
dangers of a change of government, and in placing 
the interests of the nation upon a secure and solid 
foundation. Fortunate was it for the people of Eng- 
land and their posterity that the services of a man 
of his industry and settled principles, of his sound 
constitutional information, and his rational and en- 
lightened views of the relative rights and duties of 
kings and subjects, were at that critical juncture 
available to his country ; and that, at the instant of 
the occurrence of this momentous revolution, his 
character was sufficiently known and appreciated to 
render those services fully effective. 

Shortly after the accession of William and Mary, 
Somers was appointed Solicitor-General, and re- 
ceived the honour of knighthood. Bishop Burnet 
says, that in the warm debates which took place in 
Parliament on the bill respecting the recognition of 
the King and Queen, and the validity of the new 
settlement of the government, it was strongly ob- 
jected by the Tories that the convention, not being 
summoned by the King's writ, had no legal sanction ; 
and that Somers distinguisbed himself by the spirited 
and able manner in which he answered the objection. 
"He spoke," says Burnet, "with such zeal and 
such an ascendant of authority that none were pre- 
pared to answer it ; so that the bill passed without 
more opposition. This was a great service done in 
a very critical time, and contributed not a little to 
raise Somers 's character." 

In April, J.692, Sir John Somers became Attor- 
ney-General, and in the month of March following 
was appointed Lord- Keeper of the Great Seal. 
While he presided in the Court of Chancery as 
Lord-Keeper, he delivered his celebrated judgment 



in the Bankers' case, which Mr. Hargrave describes 
as " one of the most elaborate arguments ever deli- 
vered in Westminster Hall." It is said that Lord 
Somers expended several hundred pounds in col- 
lecting books and pamphlets for this argument. In 
1697 he was appointed Lord Chancellor, and raised 
to the peerage, with the title of Baron Somers of 

In the year immediately succeeding his elevation 
to the peerage, it was the fate of Lord Somers to ex- 
perience the virulence of party animosity, and the 
selfishness and instability of royal favour. His in- 
fluence with the King, and the moderation and good 
sense with which he had restrained the impetuosity 
of his own party, had been long the means of pre- 
serving the Whig administration; and the Tories 
saw plainly that there were no hopes for the attain- 
ment of their objects so long as Lord Somers retained 
the confidence of the King. William had been, 
from the commencement of his reign, continually 
vacillating between the two parties according to the 
circumstances of his affairs ; at this period he was 
so incensed and embarrassed by the conduct of the 
contending parties in the House of Commons, that 
he readily listened to the leaders of the Tories, who 
assured him that they would undertake to manage 
the Parliament as he pleased, if he would dismiss 
from his councils the Lord Chancellor Somers, 
whom they represented to be peculiarly odious to the 
Commons. In fact, the Tory party in the House of 
Commons had, in the course of the stormy session 
of Parliament which commenced in November, 1699, 
made several Anolent but ineffectual attacks upon the 
Lord Chancellor. The first charge brought against 
him was, that he had improperly dismissed many 
gentlemen from the commission of the peace : upon 
a full explanation of all the circumstances, this 


charge was proved to be so utterly groundless that it 
was abandoned by those who had introduced it. 
The second accusation had no better foundation than 
the first. Great complaints having been made of 
certain English pirates in the West Indies, who had 
plundered several merchant ships, it was determined 
to send out a ship of war for the purpose of de- 
stroying them. But as there was no fund to bear the 
charge of such an expedition, the King proposed to 
his ministers that it should be carried on as a private 
undertaking, and promised to subscribe ^£3,000 on 
his own account. In compliance with this recom- 
mendation. Lord Somers, the Duke of Shrewsbury, 
the Earls of Romney, Oxford, Bellamont, and se- 
veral others, contributed a sufficient sum to defray 
the whole expense of the armament. Unfortunately 
one Captain Kidd was appointed to command the 
expedition, who was unprincipled enough to turn 
pirate himself, and having committed various acts 
of robbery on the high seas, was eventually captured, 
brought to England, and some time afterwards tried 
and executed for his offences. It was then insinuated 
that the Lord Chancellor and the other individuals 
who had subscribed towards the expedition were en- 
gaged as partners in Kidd's piratical scheme; so 
that an undertaking, which was not only innocent, 
but meritorious and patriotic, was construed by the 
blindness of party prejudice into a design for robbery 
and piracy. A resolution in the House of Com- 
mons, founded upon this absurd imputation, was 
rejected by a great majority. Shortly afterwards, 
after ordering a list of the Privy Council to be laid 
before the House, a question was moved in the 
House of Commons, "that an address should be 
made to his Majesty to remove John Lord Somers, 
Chancellor of England, from his presence and coun- 
cils for ever." This motion, however, was also ne- 


gatived by a large majority. The prosecution of 
these frivolous charges against Lord Somers was 
a source of perpetual irritation to the King, in con- 
sequence of the vexatious delay it occasioned to the 
public service, and the virulent party spirit which it 
introduced into the House of Commons ; and it was 
under the influence of this feeling, and in order to 
deliver himself from a temporary' embarrassment, 
that he selfishly determined to adopt the interested 
advice of the Tory leaders, and to remove the Lord 
Chancellor from his office. He accordingly inti- 
mated to Lord Somers that it was necessary for his 
service that he should resign the seals, but wished 
him to make the resignation himself, in order that it 
might appear as if it was his o\A'n act. The Chan- 
cellor declined to make a voluntary surrender of the 
seals, as such a course might indicate a fear of his 
enemies, or a consciousness of misconduct in his 
office ; upon which Lord Jersey was sent mth an 
express warrant for the seals, and Lord Somers de- 
livered them to him without hesitation. 

The malignity of party of spirit was not satis- 
fied by the dismissal of Lord Somers from his office, 
and from all participation in the government. 
Soon after his retirement, namely in the year 1701, 
the celebrated Partition Treaties gave occasion to 
much angry debate in both Houses of Parliament. 
His conduct, Anth respect to these treaties, seems to 
have been entirely irreproachable ; but it became the 
subject of much misrepresentation, and the most un- 
reserved invective and abuse in the House of Com- 
mons. It appears that in 1698, when the King was 
in Holland, a proposal was made to him by the 
French Government for arranging the partition of 
some of the territories belonging to the cro\\Ti of 
Spain upon the expected death of Charles IL This 
partition was to be made in certain defined propo^' 


tions between the Electoral Prince of Bavaria, the 
Dauphin of France, and the Archduke Charles, the 
second son of the Emperor. The King entertained 
these proposals favourably, and wrote to Lord Somers, 
who was at that time Lord Chancellor, desiring his 
opinion upon them, and commanding him to forward 
to him a commission in blank under the great seal, 
appointing persons to treat with the Commissioners 
of the French Government. Lord Somers, after 
comnmnicating with Lord Orford, the Duke of 
Shrewsbury, and Mr. Montague, as he had been 
authorised to do, transmitted to the King their joint 
opinions, which suggested several objections to the 
proposed treaty, together with the required commis- 
sion. This was the " head and front of his offend- 
ing" in this respect ; for the treaty was afterwards 
negotiated abroad, and finally signed without any 
further communication with Lord Somers. 

Understanding that he was accused in the House 
of Commons of ha\nng advised and promoted the 
Partition Treaties, Lord Somers requested to be 
heard in that House in his defence. His request 
being granted, he stated to the House, in a calm and 
dignified manner, the history of his conduct respect- 
ing the treaties, and contended, with much force and 
eloquence, that in the whole course of that trans- 
action he had correctly and honestly discharged his 
duty both as Chancellor and as a Privy Councillor. 
After he had withdra^^Ti, a wann debate ensued, 
which terminated in a resolution carried by a small 
majority, " that John, Lord Somers, by advising his 
Majesty to conclude the Treaty of Partition, was 
guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour." Similar 
resolutions were passed against the Earl of Orford 
and Lord Halifax, and all of them were impeached 
at the bar of the House of Lords. The articles of 
impeachment against Lord Somers principally 


charged him with having affixed the great seal to 
the blank commission sent to the King in Holland, 
and afterwards to the treaties ; with having encou- 
raged and promoted the piracies of Captain Kidd ; 
and with having received grants from the Crown for 
his own personal emolument. To each of these 
articles Lord Somers answered promptly and fully ; 
to the two first he replied the facts of each case as 
above related ; and in answer to the third, he admitted 
that the king had been pleased to make certain grants 
to him, but denied that they had been made in con- 
sequence of any solicitation on his part. After many 
frivolous delays and repeated disputes between the two 
Houses, a day was fixed for the trial of the impeach- 
ment ; on which day the Commons not appearing to 
prosecute their articles, the Lords, by a considerable 
majority, acquitted Lord Somers of the charges and 
dismissed the impeachment. 

The violence and folly exhibited in the conduct 
of these proceedings opened the eyes of the King to 
his error in having changed his ministry at so critical 
a time. He found to his infinite disquietude that 
instead of enabling him to manage the Commons as 
they had promised, the Tory leaders had rendered 
them more intractable and imperious than before ; 
and that instead of sincerely endeavouring to promote 
peace abroad and quiet government at home, they 
were actuated entirely by motives of private passion 
and revenge. In this state of affairs he again di- 
rected his attention to Lord Somers, in consequence, 
probably, of the urgent advice of Lord Sunderland, 
and wrote him a note from Loo, dated the 10th of 
October, 1701, assuring him of the continuance of 
his friendship. By the united exertions of Somers 
and Sunderland a negotiation was entered into with 
a view to the formation of a Whig ministry; but 
after some little progress had been made, the death 


of the King, in March, 1702, put an end to the pro- 
ject, and the succession of Queen Anne confirmed the 
establishment of the Tory administration. 

The state of parties for some years after the ac- 
cession of Queen Anne excluded Somers from taking 
any active part in political affairs. It is probable 
that at this period of his life he devoted his attention 
to literature and science, as in 1702 he was elected 
President of the Royal Society. He afterwards ap- 
plied himself with diligence to the removal of several 
gross defects in the practice of the Courts of Chan- 
cery and Common Law. In 1706 he introduced 
into the House of Lords an extensive and effectual 
bill for the correction of such abuses. In passing 
through the House of Commons "it was found," 
says Burnet, " that the interest of under-officers, 
clerks, and attorneys, whose gains were to be les- 
sened by this bill, was more considered than the in- 
terest of the nation itself. Several clauses, how 
beneficial soever to the subject, which touched on 
their profit, were left out by the Commons." Still 
the " Act for the Amendment of the Law and the 
better advancement of Justice," as it now stands 
amongst the statutes of tlie realm, effected a very 
important improvement in the administration of 

Lord Somers is said to have had a chief hand in 
projecting the scheme of the Union with Scotland ; 
and in discussing and arranging the details of this 
great measure in the House of Lords, he appears to 
have been one of the most frequent and distinguished 
speakers, though he was then labouring under great 
bodily infirmity. 

In the year 1 708, on occasion of the temporary 
return of the Whigs to power. Lord Somers again 
formed part of the administration and filled the office 
of President of the Council. But the powers of his 


mind were at this time much enfeebled by continual 
ill-health ; and it was probably ^^'ith feelings of satis- 
faction that the change of parties in 1710, by causing 
his dismissal from office, enabled him finally to re- 
tire into private life. 

Of the mode in which the remaining period of his 
life was spent after his removal from public business, 
little is known. There is, however, no doubt that 
the concluding years of his existence were darkened 
by much sickness and some degree of mental aliena- 
tion. On the accession of George I. he formally took 
his seat at the Council-Board ; but a paralytic af- 
fection, which had destroyed his bodily health, had 
so impaired the faculties of his mind as to incapa- 
citate him entirely for business. At intervals, how- 
ever, when the pressure of disease was suspended, he 
appears to have recurred with strong interest to 
passing events in which the welfare of his country 
was involved. When the Septennial Bill was in 
progress, Lord Townshend called upon him : Lord 
Somers embraced him, congratulated him on the 
progress of the bill, and declared that " he thought 
it would be the greatest support possible to the 
liberty of the country.'' On a subsequent occasion, 
when informed by the same nobleman of the deter- 
mination of George L to adopt the advice of his 
ministry', by executing the full rigour of the law 
against Lord Denventwater, and the other unfortu- 
nate persons concerned in the Rebellion of 1715, he 
is said to have asked with great emotion, and shed- 
ding many tears, "whether they meant to revive the 
proscriptions of Marius and Sylla?" 

He soon afterwards sunk into a state of total im- 
becility, from which, on the 26th of April, 1716, he 
was happily released by death. 



William Penn was born in London, October 14, 
1644. He was the son of a naval officer of the 
same name, who served with distinction both in the 
Protectorate and after the Restoration, and who was 
much esteemed by Charles II. and the Duke of 
York. At the age of fifteen, he was entered as a 
gentleman-commoner at Christchurch, Oxford. He 
had not been long in residence, when he received, 
from the preaching of Thomas Loe, his first bias 
towards the doctrines of the Quakers ; and in con- 
junction with some fellow-students, he began to with- 
draw from attendance on the Established Church, 
and to hold pnvate prayer-meetings. For this con- 
duct Penn and his friends were fined by the college 
for non-conformity; and the former was soon in- 
volved in more serious censure by his ill-governed 
zeal, in consequence of an order from the king, that 
the ancient custom of wearing surplices should be 
revived. This seemed to Penn an infringement of 
the simplicity of Christian worship : whereupon he 
with some friends tore the surplices from the backs 
of those students who appeared in them. For this 

PENN. 19 

act of violence, totally inconsistent, it is to be observed, 
with the principles of toleration which regulated his 
conduct in after life, he and they were very justly 

Admiral Penn, who like most sailors possessed a 
quick temper and high notions of discipline and obe- 
dience, was little pleased with this event, and still 
less satisfied with his son's grave demeanour, and 
avoidance of the manners and ceremonies of polite 
life. Arguments failing, he had recourse to blows, 
and as a last resource, he turned his son out of doors ; 
but soon relented so far as to equip him, in 1662, for 
a journey to France, in hope that the gaiety of that 
country would expel his new-fashioned and, as he 
regarded them, fanatical notions. Paris, however, 
soon became wearisome to William Penn, and he 
spent a considerable time at Saumur, for the sake of 
the instruction and company of Moses Amyrault, an 
eminent Protestant divine. Here he confirmed and 
improved his religious impressions, and at the same 
time acquired, from the insensible influence of those 
who surrounded him, an increased polish and court- 
liness of demeanour, which greatly gratified the Ad- 
miral on his return home in 1664. 

Admiral Penn went to sea in 1664, and remained 
two years on service. During this time the exter- 
nal effects of his son's residence in France had worn 
away, and he had returned to those grave habits, 
and that rule of associating only with religious 
people, which had before given his father so much 
displeasure. To try the effect of absence and change 
of associates, Admiral Penn sent "William to manage 
his estates in Ireland, a duty which the latter per- 
formed with satisfaction both to himself and his em- 
ployer. But it chanced that, on a visit to Cork, he 
again attended the preaching of Thomas Loe, by 
whose exhortations he was deeply impressed. From 

20 PENN. 

this time he began to frequent the Quakers* meet- 
ings; and in September, 1667, he was imprisoned, 
with others, under the persecuting laws which then 
disgraced our statute-book. Upon application to 
the higher authorities, he was soon released. 

Upon receiving tidings that William had connected 
himself with the Quakers, the Admiral immediately 
summoned him to England ; and he soon became 
certified of the fact, among other peculiarities, by his 
son's pertinacious adherence to the Quakers' notions 
concerning what they called Hat Worship. This 
led him to a violent remonstrance. William Penn 
behaved with due respect ; but in the main point, 
that of forsaking his associates and rule of conduct, 
he yielded nothing. The father confined his demands 
at last to the simple point, that his son should sit 
uncovered in the presence of himself, the King and 
the Duke of York. Still William Penn felt bound 
to make not even this concession ; and on this re- 
fusal the Admiral again turned him out of doors. 

Soon after, in 1668, he began to preach, and in 
the same year he published his first work, ' Truth 
Exalted, &c.' We cannot here notice his verj' nu- 
merous works, of which the titles run, for the most 
part, to an extraordinary length : but ' The Sandy 
Foundation Shaken,' published in the same year, 
claims notice, as having led to his first public per- 
secution. In it he was induced, not to deny the 
doctrine of the Trinity, which in a certain sense he 
admitted, but to object to the language in which it is 
expounded by the English Church ; and for this of- 
fence he was imprisoned for some time in the Tower. 
During this confinement, he composed ' No Cross, 
No Crown,' one of his principal and most popular 
works, of which the leading doctrine, admirably ex- 
emplified in his own life, was, that the way to future 
happiness and glory lies, in this world, not through 

PENN. 21 

a course of misery and needless mortification, but 
still through labour, watchfulness, and self-denial, 
and continual striving against corrupt passions and 
inordinate indulgences. This is enforced by copious 
examples from profane as well as sacred history; 
and the work gives evidence of an extent of learning 
very creditable to its author, considering his youth, 
and the circumstances under which it was composed. 
He was detained in prison for seven months, and 
treated with much severity. In 1669 he had the 
satisfaction of being reconciled to his father. 

WiUiam Penn was one of the first sufferers by the 
passing of the Conventicle Act, in 1670. He was 
imprisoned in Newgate, and tried for preaching to a 
seditious and riotous assembly in Gracechurch-street ; 
and this trial is remarkable and celebrated in our 
criminal jurisprudence, for the firmness with which 
he defended himself, and still more for the admirable 
courage and constancy with which the jury main- 
tained the verdict of acquittal which they pronounced. 
He showed on this, and on all other occasions, that 
he well understood and appreciated the free prin- 
ciples of our constitution, and that he was resolved 
not to surrender one iota of that liberty of conscience 
which he claimed for others, as well as for himself. 
" I am far from thinking it fit," he said, in address- 
ing the House of Commons, " because I exclaim 
against the injustice of whipping Quakers for Papists, 
that Papists should be whipped for their consciences. 
No, for though the hand pretended to be lifted up 
against them hath lighted heavily upon us, and we 
complain, yet we do not mean that any should take 
a fresh aim at them, or that they should come in 
our room, for we must give the liberty we ask, and 
would have none suffer for a truly sober and con- 
scientious dissent on any hand." His views of reli- 
gious toleration and civil liberty he has well and 

22 PENK. 

clearly explained in the treatise entitled * England's 
present Interest, &c.,' published in 1614, in whicli 
it formed part of his argument that the liberties of 
Englishmen were anterior to the settlement of the 
English church, and could not be affected by dis- 
crepancies in their religious belief. He maintained 
that " to live honestly, to do no injury to another, 
and to give every man his due, was enough to entitle 
every native to English privileges. It was this, and 
not his religion, which gave him the great claim to 
the protection of the government under which he 
lived. Near three hundred years before Austin set 
his foot on English ground the inhabitants had a 
good constitution. This came not in with him. 
Neither did it come in with Luther ; nor was it to 
go out with Calvin, We were a free people by the 
creation of God, by the redemption of Christ, and 
by the careful provision of our never-to-be-forgotten, 
honourable ancestors : so that our claim to these 
English privileges, rising higher than Protestantism, 
could never justly be invalidated on account of non- 
conformity to any tenet or fashion it might pre- 

In the same year died Sir William Penn, in per- 
fect harmony with his son, towards whom he now 
felt the most cordial regard and esteem, and to whom 
he bequeathed an estate computed at 15,00/. a-year, 
a large sum in that age. Towards the end of the 
year he was again imprisoned in Newgate for six 
months, the statutable penalty for refusing to take 
the oath of allegiance, which was maliciously ten- 
dei'ed to him by a magistrate. This appears to have 
been the last absolute persecution for religion's sake 
which he endured. Religion in England has gene- 
rally met with more toleration in proportion as it 
has been backed by the worldly importance of its 
professors : and though his poor brethren continued 

PENN. 23 

to suffer imprisonment in the stocks, fines, and whip- 
ping, as the penalty of their peaceable meetings for 
Divine worship, the wealthy proprietor, though he 
travelled largely, both in England and abroad, and 
laboured both in writing and in preaching, as the 
missionary of his sect, both escaped injury, and ac- 
quired reputation and esteem by his self-devotion. 
To the favour of the King and the Duke of York he 
had a hereditary claim, which appears always to 
have been cheerfully acknowledged ; and an instance 
of the rising consideration in which he was held 
appears in his being admitted to plead, before a 
Committee of the House of Commons, the request of 
the Quakers that their solemn affirmation should be 
admitted in the place of an oath. An enactment to 
this effect passed the Commons in 1678, but was lost, 
in consequence of a prorogation, before it had passed 
the Lords. It was on this occasion that he made 
that appeal in behalf of general toleration, of which 
a part is quoted in the preceding page. 

Penn married in 1672, and took up his abode at 
Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. In 1677 we find 
him removed to Worminghurst in Sussex, which 
long continued to be his place of residence. His 
first engagement in the plantation of America was in 
1676 ; in consequence of being chosen arbitrator in 
a dispute between two Quakers, who had become 
jointly concerned in the colony of New Jersey. 
Though nowise concerned, by interest or proprie- 
torship, (until 1681, when he purchased a share in 
the eastern district in New Jersey,) he took great 
pains in this business ; he arranged terms, upon 
which colonists were invited to settle ; and he drew 
up the outline of a simple constitution, reserving to 
them the right of making all laws by their represen- 
tatives, of security from imprisonment or fine except 
by the consent of twelve men of the neighbourhood, 

24 PEi^ji. 

and perfect freedom in the exercise of their religion : 
" regulations," he said, " by an adherence to which 
they could never be brought into bondage but by 
their own consent." In these transactions he had 
the opportunity of contemplating the glorious results 
which might be hoped from a colony founded with 
no interested views, but on the principles of universal 
peace, toleration, and liberty : and he felt an earnest 
desire to be the instrument in so great a work, more 
especially as it held out a prospect of deliverance to 
his persecuted Quaker brethren in England, by giv- 
ing them a free and happy asylum in a foreign land. 
Circumstances favoured his wish. The Crown was 
indebted to him 16,000/. for money advanced by the 
late Admiral for the naval service. It was not un- 
usual to grant not only the property, but the right 
of government, in large districts in the uncleared 
part of America, as in the case of New York and 
New Jersey respectively to the Duke of York and 
Lord Baltimore : and though it was hopeless to ex- 
tract money from Charles, yet he was ready enough, 
in acquittal of this debt, to bestow on Penn, whom 
he loved, a tract of land from which he himself could 
never expect any pecuniary return. Accordingly, 
Penn received, in 1681, a grant by charter of that 
extensive province, named Pennsylvania by Charles 
himself, in honour of the Admiral : by which charter 
he was invested with the property in the soil, with 
the power of ruling and governing the same ; of 
enacting laws, with the advice and approbation of 
the freemen of the tei'ritory assembled for the raising 
of money for public uses ; of appointing judges, and 
administering justice. He immediately drew up 
and published ' Some Account of Pennsylvania, 
&c. ;' and then ' Certain Conditions or Conces- 
sions, &c.' to be agreed on between himself and those 
who wished to purchase land in the province 

se M 


These kaving been accepted by many persons, he 
proceeded to frame the rough sketch of a consti- 
tution, on which he proposed to base the charter of 
the province. The price fixed on land was forty 
shillings, with the annual quit-rent of one shilling, 
for one hundred acres : and it was provided that no 
one should, in word or deed, affront or wrong any 
Indian without incurring the same penalty as if the 
offence had been committed against a fellow-planter ; 
that strict precautions should be taken against fraud 
in the quality of goods sold to them; and that all dif- 
ferences between the two nations should be adjudged 
by twelve men, six of each. And he declares his 
intention " to leave myself and my successors no 
power of doing mischief; that the will of one man 
may not hinder the good of a whole country." 

This constitution, as originally organised by Penn, 
consisted, says Mr. Clarkson, " of a Governor, a 
Council, and an Assembly ; the two last of which 
were to be chosen by, and therefore to be the Repre- 
sentatives of, the people. The Governor was to be 
perpetual President, but he was to have but a treble 
vote. It was the office of the Council to prepare 
and propose bills, to see that the laws were executed, 
to take care of the peace and safety of the province, 
to settle the situation of ports, cities, market-towns, 
roads and other public places, to inspect the public 
treasury, to erect courts of justice, to institute schools 
for the virtuous education of youth, and to reward 
the authors of useful discovery. Not less than two- 
thirds of these were necessary to make a quorum, 
and the consent of not less than two-thirds of such 
quorum in all matters of moment. The Assembly 
were to have no deliberative power, but when bills 
were brought to them from the Governor and Coun- 
cil, were to pass or reject them by a plain Yes or No. 
They were to present Sheriffs and Justices of the 

VOL. III. c 

26 PENN. 

Peace to the Governor ; a double number, for his 
choice of half. They were to be chosen annually, 
and to be chosen by secret ballot." This ground- 
work was modified by Penn himself at later periods, 
and especially by remo\'ing that restriction which 
forbade the Assembly to debate, or to originate 
bills : and it was this, substantially, which Burke, 
in his ' Account of the European Settlements in 
America' describes as " that noble charter of privi- 
leges, by which he made them as free as any people 
in the world, and which has since drawn such vast 
numbers of so many different persuasions and such 
various countries to put themselves under the pro- 
tection of his laws. He made the most perfect 
freedom, both religious and civil, the basis of his 
establishment ; and this has done more towards the 
settling of the province, and towards the settling of 
it in a strong and permanent manner, than the 
wisest regulations could have done on any other 

In 1682 a number of settlers, principally Quakers, 
having been already sent out, Penn himself embarked 
for Pennsylvania, leaving his wife and children in 
England. On occasion of this parting, he addressed 
to them a long and affectionate letter, which presents 
a very beautiful picture of his domestic character, 
and affords a curious insight into the minute regu- 
larity of his daily habits. He landed on the banks 
of the Delaware in October, and forthwith summoned 
an assembly of the freemen of the province, by whom 
the frame of government, as it had been promulgated 
in England, was accepted. Penn's principles did 
not sutler him to consider his title to the land as 
valid, without the consent of the natural owners of 
the soil. He had instructed persons to negotiate a 
treaty of sale with the Indian nations before liis 
own departure from England ; and one of his first 

PENN. 27 

acts was to hold that memorable Assembly, to which 
the history of the world offers none alike, at which 
this bargain was ratified, and a strict league of 
amity established. We do not find specified the 
exact date of this meeting, which took place under 
an enormous elm-tree, near the site of Philadelphia, 
and of which a few particulars only have been pre- 
served by the uncertain record of tradition. Well 
and faithfully was that treaty of friendship kept by 
the wild denizens of the woods : " a friendship," says 
Proud, the historian of Pennsylvania, " which for the 
space of more than seventy years was never inter- 
rupted, or so long as the Quakers retained power in 
the government." 

Penn remained in America until the middle of 
1684. During this time much was done towards 
bringing the colony into prosperity and order. 
Twenty townships were established, containing 
upwards of 7000 Europeans ; magistrates were 
appointed ; representatives, as prescribed by the 
constitution, were chosen, and the necessary public 
business transacted. In 1683 Penn undertook a 
journey of discovery into the interior ; and he has 
given an interesting account of the country in its 
wild state, in a letter written home to the Society of 
Free Traders to Pennsylvania. He held frequent 
conferences with the Indians, and contracted treaties 
of friendship Avith nineteen distinct tribes. His 
reasons for returning to England appear to have 
been twofold; partly the desire to settle a dispute 
between himself and Lord Baltimore, concerning the 
boundary of their provinces, but chiefly the hope of 
being able, by his personal influence, to lighten the 
sufferings and ameliorate the treatment of the 
Quakers in England. He reached England in 
October, 1684. Charles 11. died in February, 1685. 
But this was rather favourable to Penn's credit at 




J) , 

PENN. 29 

court ; for besides that James appears to have felt a 
sincere regard for him, he required for his own 
church that toleration which Penn wished to see 
extended to all alike. This credit at court led to 
the renewal of an old and assuredly most groundless 
report, that Penn was at heart a Papist — nay, that 
he was in priest's orders, and a Jesuit : a report 
which gave him much uneasiness, and which he 
took much pains in public and in private to contra- 
dict. The same credit, and the natural and laudable 
affection and gratitude towards the Stuart family 
which he never dissembled, caused much trouble to 
him after the Revolution. He was continually sus- 
pected of plotting to restore the exiled dynasty ; was 
four times arrested, and as often discharged in the 
total absence of all evidence against him. During 
the years 1691, 1692, and part of 1693, he remained 
in London, living, to avoid offence, in great seclu- 
sion : in the latter year he was heard in his own 
defence before the king and council, and informed 
that he need apprehend no molestation or injury. 

The affairs of Pennsylvania fell into some confu- 
sion during Penn's long absence. Even in the 
peaceable sect of Quakers there were ambitious, 
bustling and selfish men ; and Penn was not satisfied 
with the conduct either of the representative Assem- 
bly, or of those to whom he had delegated his own 
powers. He changed the latter two or three times, 
without effecting the restoi'ation of harmony: and 
these troubles gave a pretext for depriving him of 
his powers as Governor, in 1693. The real cause 
was probably the suspicion entertained of his trea- 
sonable correspondence with James II. But he was 
reinstated in August, 1694, by a royal order, in 
which it was complimentarily expressed that the 
disorders complained of were produced entirely by 
his absence. Anxious as he was to return, he did 


30 vehv. 

not find an opportunity till 1699 : the Interval was 
chiefly employed in religious travel through England 
and Ireland, and in the labour of controversial 
writing, from which he seldom had a long respite. 
His course as a philanthropist on his return to 
America is honourably marked by an endeavour to 
ameliorate the condition of Negro slaves. The 
society of Quakers in Pennsylvania had already 
come to a resolution, that the buying, selling, and 
holding men in slavery was inconsistent with the 
tenets of the Christian religion : and following up 
this honourable declaration, Penn had no diflSculty 
in obtaining for them free admission into the regu- 
lar meetings for religious worship, and in procuring 
that other meetings should be holden for their par- 
ticular benefit. The Quakers therefore merit our 
respect as the earliest, as well as some of the most 
zealous emancipators. Mr. Clarkson says, " When 
Penn procured the insertion of this resolution in the 
Monthly Meeting book of Philadelphia, he sealed 
as assuredly and effectually the Abolition of the 
Slave Trade, and the Emancipation of the Negroes 
within his o\yi\ province, as, when he procured the 
insertion of the minute relating to the Indians in the 
same book, he sealed the civilization of the latter ; 
for, from the time the subject became incorporated 
into the discipline of the Quakers, they never lost 
sight of it. Several of them began to refuse to 
purchase Negroes at all ; and othei's to emancipate 
those which they had in their possession, and this of 
their own accord, and purely from the motives of 
religion ; till at length it became a law of the 
society that no member could be concerned, directly 
or indirectly, either in buying and selling, or in 
holding them in bondage ; and this law was carried 
so completely into effect, that in the year 1780, dis- 
persed as the society was over a vast tract of coun- 


PENN. 31 

try, there was not a single Negro as a slave in the 
possession of an acknowledged Quaker. This ex- 
ample, soon after it had begun, was followed by- 
others of other religious denominations." 

In labouring to secure kind treatment, to raise the 
character, and to promote the welfare of the Indians, 
Penn was active and constant, during this visit to 
America, as before. The legislative measures which 
took place while he remained, and the bickerings 
between the Assembly and himself, we pass over, as 
belonging rather to a history of Pennsylvania, than 
to the biography of its founder. For the same 
reason we omit the charges preferred against him by 
Dr. Franklin. The union in one person of the rights 
belonging both to a governor and a proprietor, no 
doubt is open to objection ; but this cannot be urged 
as a fault upon Penn ; and we believe that it would 
be difficult to name any person who has used power 
and privilege with more disinterested views. That 
he was indifferent to his powers, or his emoluments, 
is not to be supposed, and ought not to have been 
expected. He spent large sums, he bestowed much 
pains upon the colony : and he felt and stated it to 
be a great grievance, that, whereas a provision was 
voted to the royal governor during the period of his 
own suspension, not so much as a table was kept for 
himself; and that instead of contributing towards his 
expenses, even the trivial quit-rents which he had 
reserved remained unpaid : nay, it Avas sought by the 
Assembly, against all justice, to divert them from 
him, towards the support of the government. It is 
to be recollected that Franklin wrote for a political 
object, to overthrow the privileges which Penn's 
heirs enjoyed. 

The Governor returned to England in 1701, to 
oppose a scheme agitated in Parliament for abolish- 
ing the proprietary governments, and placing th© 

32 PENN. 

colonies immediately under royal control : tlie bill, 
however, was dropped before he amved. He enjoyed 
Anne's favour, as he had that of her father and 
uncle, and resided much in the neighbourhood of 
the court, at Kensington and Knightsbridge. In his 
religious labours he continued constant, as heretofore. 
He was much harassed by a law-suit, the result of 
too much confidence in a dishonest steward : which 
being decided against him, he was obliged for a time 
to reside within the Rules of the Fleet Prison. This, 
and the expenses, in which he had been involved by 
Pennsylvania, reduced him to distress, and in 1709, 
he mortgaged the province for ^£6,600. In 1712 he 
agreed to sell his rights to the government for 
^'12,000, but was rendered unable to complete the 
transaction by three apoplectic fits, which followed 
each other in quick succession. He survived how- 
ever in a tranquil and happy state, though with his 
bodily and mental vigour much broken, until July 30, 
1718, on which day he died at his seat at Rushcomb, 
in Berkshire, where he had resided for some years. 

His first wife died in 1693. He married a second 
time in 1696; and left a family of children by both 
wives, to whom he bequeathed his landed property 
in Europe and America. His rights of government 
he left in trust to the Earls of Oxford and Powlett, 
to be disposed of; but no sale being ever made, the 
government, ^vith the title of Proprietaries, devolved 
on the surviving sons of the second family. 

Penn's numerous works were collected, and a life 
prefixed to them, in 1726. Select editions of them 
have been since published. Mr. Clarkson's ' Life,' 
Proud's ' History of Pennsylvania,' and Franklin's 
* Historical Review, &c. of Pennsylvania,' for a view 
of the exceptions which have been taken to Penn's 
character as a statesman, may be advantageously 


Joseph Addison, the second of the six children of 
Dr. Launcelot Addison and Jane Gulstone, was 
born May 1, 1672, at Milston in Wiltshire. The 
feebleness of his infancy seems to have impaired his 
spirit as a boy ; for, in ihe General Dictionary, Dr. 
Birch relates, that when at school in the country, he 
was so afraid of punishment as to have absconded, 
lodging in a hollow tree in the fields, till a hue and 
cry restored him to his parents. At the Charter- 
House was formed that friendship between him and 
Sir Richard Steele, which led to their close alliance 
in a new kind of literary undertaking. Addison 
could not but feel his own superiority ; and Spence 
intimates, that the one was too fond of displaying, 
and the other too servile in acknowledging it. Steele 
occasionally availed himself not only of his friend's 
pen, but of his purse. Johnson has given currency 
to the story, that Addison enforced the repayment 
of 100/, by an execution, and the fact is said to have 
been related by Steele himself, with tears in his eyes 
Hooke, the Roman historian, professed to have re- 


ceived it from Pope. The biographer sarcastically 
remarks, that the borrower probably had not much 
purpose of repayment ; but the lender, who " seems 
to have had other notions of 100/., grew impatient 
of delay." Now no date is assigned to this anecdote ; 
and Addison's finances were so low during the 
greater part of his life, that he might have suffered 
greatly by the disappointment ; nor does it detract 
from the character of a man in narrow circum- 
stances, that he entertains serious notions of 100/. 

In 1687 Addison was entered at Queen's College, 
Oxford, where he took the degree of M.A., February 
14, 1693. One of his early poetical attempts was 
'An account of the greatest English Poets, in- 
scribed to H. S. ;' initials which have been currently 
assigned to Dr. Henry Sacheverell, who is indebted, 
for no enviable place in history, to his trial and its 
consequences. But a college friend of Addison has 
left it on record, that the initials were the property 
of a gentleman bearing the same name, who died 
young, after having shown some promise in writing 
a history of the Isle of Man, and who bequeathed 
his papers to Addison, containing, among other 
things, the plan of a tragedy on the death of So- 
crates, which the legatee had some thoughts of 
working up himself. In this poem the writer tells 
his friend that Spenser can no longer charm an un- 
derstanding age. Now the judgment of the present 
age disclaims this confident decision ; nor would it 
be worth recording, but for Spence's assertion, that 
the critic had never read the ' Faery Queene,' when 
he drew its character. In after life he spoke of his 
own poem as a " poor thing ;" but his general level 
as a versifier was not high. The ' Campaign' is his 
mastei-piece in rhyme. 

He was indebted to Congreve for his introduction 
to Montague, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. 


Johnson says, that " he was then learning the trade 
of a courtier, and subjoined Montague as a poetical 
name to those of Cowley and of Dryden." jfn 1695 
he wrote a poem to King William, with an intro- 
duction addressed to Lord Somers, who is said by 
Tiekell to have sent a message to the author to de- 
sire his acquaintance. 

In 1699 he obtained an annual pension of 300/. 
to enable him to travel. He passed the first year in 
preparation at Blois, and then departed for Italy. 
That he was duly qualified to appreciate the at- 
tractions of " classic ground," — his own phrase, 
sneered at for affectation by contemporary critics, 
but since sanctioned by general adoption, — appears 
by his ' Travels,' and by the letter from Italy to 
Lord Halifax. His ' Dialogues on Medals' were 
composed at this time. On the death of King Wil- 
liam, in March, 1702, he became distressed for 
money by the stoppage of his pension. This com- 
pelled him to become tutor to a travelling squire. 
The engagement seems to have been for one year 
only, for he was at Rotterdam in June, 1703. In 
the ' Gentleman's Magazine' for November, 1835, 
may be found three very curious, because cha- 
racteristic, letters, from the Duke of Somerset sur- 
iiamed by his contemporaries the Proud, to old 
Jacob Tonson, forwarding a proposal to Addison 
to undertake the office of tutor to his son, then going 
abroad. We transcribe a passage from the second 
letter, as a sample of the proud Duke's liberality. 
" I desire he may be more on the account of a com- 
panion in my son's travels, than as a governor, and 
as such shall account him : my meaning is that 
neither lodging, travelling, nor diet, shall cost him 
sixpence, and over and above that, my son shall 
present him at the year's end with a hundred gui- 
neas, as long as he is pleased to contizme in that 


sen'ice to my son, by taking great care of him, by 
his personal attendance and advice, in what he finds 
necessary during his time of travelling." It ap- 
pears from the Duke's quotation of the answer, in 
the third letter to Tonson, that Addison had " other 
notions" of this offer than the proposer entertained. 
" I will set down his own words, which are these : — 
' As for the recompense that is proposed to me, I 
must confess 1 can by no means see my account in 
it,' &c." A hundred guineas and maintenance was, 
even in those days, a mean appointment from a 
Duke to a gentleman. 

Addison returned to England at the latter end of 
1703. In 1704, at the request of Lord Godolphin, 
to whom he was introduced by the Earl of Halifax, 
he undertook to celebrate the victory of Blenheim, 
and composed the first portion of his poem called 
the ' Campaign.' This proved his introduction 
into office. After filling some inferior appointments, 
he became, in 1706, Under-Secretary of State. 
About the same time, he wrote the comic opera of 
' Rosamond,' which was neglected by the public, 
has been overpraised by Johnson, and is now de- 
servedly forgotten. 

Thomas Earl of Wharton was appointed Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland, December 4, 1 708, and pro- 
ceeded to his destination April 10, 1709, accompa- 
nied by Addison as his Secretary. Addison there- 
fore left London two days before the commencement 
of the ' Tatler,' the first number of which came out 
April 12; and his own first contribution appeared 
May 26. His last was No. 267, and the work ended 
with No. 271, January 2, 1710-11. In No. 93 is 
an article on a ' Letter from Switzerland, with Re- 
marks on Travelling,' and a sly hint that ' Fools 
ought not to be exported,' in Addison's happiest 
style of playful satire. The praise of original design 



clearly belongs to the projector of the * Tatler.* 
Tickell however was justified in saying, that Ad- 
dison's aid " did not a little contribute to advance its 
reputation;" and Steele candidly allows, that his 
coadjutor not only assisted but improved his original 
scheme. In the dedication of one of his comedies, 
Steele says, " It was advanced indeed, for it 
was raised to a greater thing than I intended it ; 
for the elegance, purity, and correctness, which ap- 
peared in his writings, were not so much to my pur- 
pose, as, in any intelligible manner I could, to rally 
all those singularities of human life, through the 
different professions and characters in it, which ob- 
struct any thing that was truly good and great." 

The first Number of the ' Spectator' appeared 
March 1, 1710-11, and the paper was discontinued 
December 6, 1712; No. 555 concluded the seventh 
volume, as first collected by the publishers. The work 
was resumed June 18, 1714, with No. 556, and the 
eighth volume closed with No. 635. Of the first 
forty-five papers of the revived ' Spectator,' Addison 
wrote twenty-three ; more than half : he did not 
contribute to the last thirty-five. Notwithstanding 
the avowed purpose of exclusively treating general 
topics, Steele's Whiggism once burst its bounds, by 
reprinting in the ' Spectator' a preface of Dr. Fleet- 
wood to some sermons, for the purpose of attracting 
the Queen's notice to it. Had the Number been 
published at the usual hour, the household might 
have devised means for its suppression, with some 
plausible excuse for its absence from the royal break- 
fast table ; but the non-issue until twelve o'clock, 
the time fixed for that meal, left no opening for 
cabal, and her Majesty's subjects were, for her sake, 
deprived of their morning's speculation till that 
hour. In No. 10 Addison states the daily sale at 
three thousand : Johnson makes it sixteen hundred 

VOL. III. s 


and eighty ; apparently far below the real number. 
The latter number is given on calculation from the 
product of the tax ; the assertion of the publisher 
was Addison's authority; and he might, in the 
commencement of the work, have indulged in the 
puff oblique. No. 14, composed of Letters from the 
Lion — from an Under-Sexton — on the Masquerade 
— and Puppet Show, is selected by the annotators, 
as " meriting the attention of such as pretend to 
distinguish with wonderful facility between Addi- 
son's and Steele's papers." It is wholly Steele's. 
The ' Guardian' was published in the interval, be- 
tween the ' Spectator's' being laid down and taken 
up again. The first Number came out March 12, 
1713; the last, October 1, 1713. Inattention to 
marks has sometimes subjected Addison to unde- 
served censure. Dr. Blair vindicates Tasso's de- 
scription of Sylvia against the ' Guardian ;* but, by 
a double inadvertence, he quotes No. 38 for a pas- 
sage contained in 28, and ascribes to Addison what 
was uTitten by Steele. The ' Whig Examiner,' and 
the ' Freeholder,' both exclusively Addison's, have 
been enabled by their wit to survive the usual fate 
of party writings. The former is so much more 
pungent than usual with the author, and excited so' 
much alarm and jealousy in Swift, that he triumph- 
antly remarks, " it is now down among the dead 
men;" part of the burthen of a popular Tory song. 
The humour of the latter Steele thought too gentle 
for such blustering times ; and is reported to have 
said, that the ministry made use of a lute, when they 
should have called for a trumpet. 

On the demise of the other papers, Hughes 
formed a project of a society of learned men of 
various characters, who were to meet and carry on 
a conversation on all subjects, empowering their 
secretary to draw up any of their discourses, or pub- 


Ush any of their writings, under the title of Register. 
Addison, in answer, applauds the specimen, and 
approves the title ; but adds, " To tell you truly, I 
have been so taken up with thoughts of that nature, 
for these two or three years last past, that I must 
now take some time pour me delasser^ and lay in 
fuel for a future work. I am in a thousand troubles 
for poor Dick, and wish that his zeal for the public 
may not be ruinous to himself; but he has sent me 
word, that he is determined to go on, and that any 
advice I can give him, in this particular, will have 
no weight with him." 

Tickell says respecting Cato, " He took up a de- 
sign of writing a play upon this subject, when he was 
very young at the university, and even attempted 
something in it there, though not a line as it now 
stands. The work was performed by him in his 
travels, and re-touched in England, without any 
formal design of bringing it on the stage, till his 
friends of the first quality and distinction prevailed 
with him to put the last finishing to it, at a time 
when they thought the doctrine of liberty very sea- 
sonable." Gibber says, that in 1704 he had the 
pleasure of reading the first four acts privately with 
Steele, who told him they were written in Italy, 
Oldmixon in his ' Art of Criticism,' 1728, talks 
about Addison's reluctance to resume the work, and 
his request to Hughes to write the fifth act. Ac- 
cording to Pope, the first packed audience was made 
to support the 'Distressed Mother;' the scheme 
was tried again for Cato with triumphant effect. 
The love- scenes are the weakest in the play, and are 
by some supposed to have been foisted on the origi- 
nal plan, to humour the false taste of the modern 
stage. When the tragedy was shown to Pope, he 
advised the author to print it, without committing 

D 2 


it to the theatre, as thinking it better suited to the 
closet than representation. 

When Lord Sunderland was sent as lord lieu- 
tenant to Ireland in 1714, Addison was appointed 
his secretary. This, as well as another step in his 
promotion, has been omitted by Johnson. In 1715 
he was made a lord of trade. In 17 16 he married the 
Countess Dowager of Warwick, to whom he had 
long paid his addresses. Johnson pleasantly sug- 
gests, that his behaviour might be not very unlike 
that of Sir Roger to his disdainful widow, and sup- 
poses that the lady might amuse herself by playing 
with his passion. Spence dates his first acquaint- 
ance with her from his appointment as tutor to the 
young earl ; but as neither the time of that appoint- 
ment is known, nor the footing on which he stood 
\\'ith the family, the first steps in this affair are left 
in obscurity. The result is better known. Mr. Tyers, 
in an unpublished essay on ' Addison's Life and 
Writings,' says, " Holland House is a large mansion, 
but could not contain Mr. Addison, the Countess of 
Warwick, and one] guest, peace." He became pos- 
sessed of this house by his marriage, and died in it. 
His last and great promotion was to the dignity of 
Secretary of State in 1717 ; but he was unfit for it, 
and gained no new laurels by it. He carried so 
much of the author into the office of the statesman, 
that he could not issue an order of mere routine 
without losing his time in hunting after unnecessary 
niceties of language. During his last illness he sent 
for Gay, and with a confession of having injured 
him, promised him a recompense if he recovered. 
He did not specify the nature of the injury; nor 
could Gay, either then or subsequently, guess at his 
meaning. Dr. Young furnished the received account 
of his interview with Lord "Warwick on his death- 


bed ; but there appears to be no ground for Johnson's 
imputation on the young man's morals or principles, 
or for supposing that it was a last effort on Addison's 
part to reclaim him. Young mentions his lordship 
as a youth finely accomplished, without a hint of 
looseness either in opinions or conduct. Addison 
died June 17, 1719 : his only child, a daughter, died 
at Bilton, in Warwickshire, at an advanced age, in 
1797. Not many days before his death he com- 
missioned Mr. Tickell to collect his writings ; a 
gentleman of whom Swift said that Addison was a 
Whig, but Tickell, Whigissimus. 

To ascertain the claim of short periodical papers 
to originality of design, we must look to the state of 
newspapers at an earlier date. As vehicles of infor- 
mation they are often mentioned in plays in the time 
of James and Charles the First. Carew, in his 
* Sun^ey of Cornwall,' first published in 1602, quotes 
' Mercurius Gallo-Belgicus.' Till the beginning of 
the eighteenth century, the periodical press had been 
exclusively political ; no class of writers but divines 
and theoretical reasoners had administered to the 
moral wants of society: certain gentlemen, there- 
fore, of liberal education, and men of the world, 
combined to furnish practical instruction in an 
amusing form, by fictions running parallel with the 
political newspaper. Addison announces the design 
" to bring philosophy out of closets and libraries, 
schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assem- 
blies, at tea-tables and in coffee-houses." In the 
character of his fictitious friend the clergyman, he 
speaks of " the great use this paper might be of to 
the public, by reprehending those vices which are 
too trivial for the chastisement of the law, and too 
fantastical for the cognizance of the pulpit." Ano- 
ther object was to allay party violence by promoting 
literary taste ; in Steele's figurative language, to 


substitute the lute for the trumpet. On this subject 
Addison says, " I am amazed that the press should 
be only made use of in this way by news-writers, 
and the zealots of parties ; as if it were not more 
advantageous to mankind to be instructed in wisdom 
and virtue than in politics, and to be made good 
fathers, husbands, and sons, than counsellors and 

Dr. Beattie, who published an edition of Addison's 
works 1790, with a Life prefixed, says that he was 
once informed, but had forgotten on what authority, 
that Addison had collected three manuscript volumes 
of materials. He might have found this in Tickell's 
Life. " It would have been impossible for Mr. 
Addison, who made little or no use of letters sent in 
by the numerous correspondents of the Spectator, to 
have executed his large share of this task in so 
exquisite a manner, if he had not engrafted into it 
many pieces that had lain by him in little hints and 
minutes, which he from time to time collected, and 
ranged in order, and moulded into the form in which 
they now appear. Such are the essays upon wit, 
the pleasures of the imagination, the critique upon 
Milton, and some others." 

The original delineation of Sir Roger de Coverley, 
for the management and keeping of which character 
Addison has been highly extolled, must unquestion- 
ably be ascribed to Steele. He drew the outlines ; 
Addison principally worked up the portrait. John- 
son not only takes a false view of the character, but 
in contradiction to every judgment but his own, 
represents the author as sinking under the weight of 
it. " The irregularities in Sir Roger's conduct 
seem not so much the effects of a mind deviating 
from the beaten track of life, by the pressure of 
some overwhelming idea, as of habitual rusticity, 
and that negligence which solitary grandeur natu- 


rally generates. The variable weather of the mind, 
the flying vapours of incipient madness, which, from 
time to time, cloud reason, without eclipsing it, it 
requires so much nicety to exhibit, that Addison 
seems to have been deterred from prosecuting his 
own design." This seems to be a mistake from 
beginning to end. Addison had no more design to 
impute incipient madness to Sir Roger, than to his 
contrast, Sir Andrew Freeport. Habitual rusticity 
is not the prevailing feature in a man who visited 
the metropolis every season : a main beauty of the 
picture is, that Sir Roger is always a gentleman, 
although an odd one. Hear Lord Orford on the 
subject. " Natural humour was the primary talent 
of Addison. His character of Sir Roger de Cover- 
ley, though inferior, is only inferior to Shakspeare's 
FalstafF." But however prejudiced or mistaken 
Johnson might be in this particular instance, when 
he deals in generalities, he traces the peculiar merits 
of Addison's manner with the touch of a master. 
" He copies with so much fidelity, that he can be 
hardly said to invent ; yet his exhibitions have an 
air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose 
them not merely the product of imagination." 

An attempt has been made to compare the humour 
of Addison with that of Moliere, of whom Lord 
Chesterfield said that no man ever had so much. 
But a parallel between an essayist and a dramatic 
writer will not run straight ; the construction of the 
drama gives so much greater latitude to the display 
of humour, and allows of so much nearer an ap- 
proach to extravagance, that there can be no drawn 
game between them, and the essayist will almost 
always be the loser. 

As a critic, Addison's merit is impartially and 
ably set forth in the notes to his Life in Dr. Kippis's 
edition of the 'Biographia Britannica.' On that 


subject Johnson is just and liberal. " Addison is 
now despised by some who perhaps would never 
have seen his defects, but by the lights which he 
afforded them." By some of these arrogant despisers 
he has been blamed for deciding by taste rather than 
by principles. To this Dr. Warton, who thought 
him superior to Dryden as a critic, briefly answers, 
taste must decide. Addison's style has been univer- 
sally admired and thought a model. Lord Orford 
says of Addison, Swift, Bolingbroke, and Dr. Mid- 
dleton, " Such authors fix a standard by their writ- 
ings." Johnson says he did not wish to be ener- 
getic; Dr. Warton aflfirms that he is so, and that 
often. Steele describes his habits of composition. 
" This was particular in this writer, that, when he 
had taken his resolution, or made his plan for what 
he designed to write, he would walk about a room, 
and dictate it into language with as much freedom 
and ease as any one could write it down, and attend 
to the coherence and grammar of what he dictated." 
Pope says that he wrote with fluency ; but if he had 
time to correct, did it slowly and cautiously; but 
that many of the ' Spectators' were written rapidly, 
and sent to the press on the instant ; and he doubts 
whether much leisure for revisal would have led to 
improvement. " He would alter anything to please 
his friends, before publication, but would not re-touch 
his pieces afterwards ; and I believe not one word 
in Cato, to which I made an objection, was suffered 
to stand." The last line of Cato was Pope's; a 
substitute for the original. 

We have neither room nor willingness to enter on 
the jealousy between these two eminent persons. 
Bowles vindicates Addison's conduct, and relates 
the following fact to the credit of his disposition : — 
" Though attacked by Dennis as a critic, he never 
mentioned his name with asperity, and refused to 


give the least countenance to a pamphlet which 
Pope had written upon the occasion of Dennis's 
stricture on Cato.'' The piece here alluded to is the 
' Narrative of the Madness of John Dennis.' Pope 
strangely imputed Addison's pious compositions to 
the selfish motive of an intention to take orders 
and obtain a bishopric on quitting administration. 
Johnson cites this as the only proof that Pope re- 
tained some malignity from their ancient rivalship : 
with this opinion we cannot quite agree. 

Addison's defect of animal spirits condemned him 
to silence in general company ; but his conversation, 
when set afloat by wine and the presence of confi- 
dential friends, was brilliant and delightful. Steele 
represents him as " having all the wit and nature of 
Terence and Catullus, heightened with humour more 
exquisite than any other man ever possessed." This 
high flight is borne out by Pope's less suspicious 
testimony. " Addison's conversation had some- 
thing in it more charming than I have found in any 
other man." Tonson and Spence represent him as 
demanding to be the first name in modem wit; and 
with Steele as his echo, depreciating Dryden, whom 
Pope and Congreve defended against them. We 
close our account with the following summary of 
his character from Hutchinson's ' History of Cum- 
berland :' — " Addison was modest and mild, a scholar, 
a gentleman, a poet, and a Christian." 

P 3 


John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, was 
born at Ashe in Devonshire, the seat of his maternal 
grandfather, Sir John Drake, June 24, 1G50. His 
father. Sir Winston Churchill, was a man of some 
literary repute, a zealous royalist, and in good esteem 
at the court of Charles II., to which John Churchill 
was introduced at the early age of twelve. He soon 
became one of the Duke of York's pages ; gained 
that prince's favour, and was presented with a com- 
mission in the guards. In 1672 he held the rank 
of Captain in the English troops which served as 
auxiliaries to France under the Duke of Monmouth ; 
and he was so fortunate as to gain the good opinion 
of Turenne, and to be honoured with the public 
thanks of Louis XIV. for his gallant conduct at the 
siege of Maestricht. On his return to England, he 
was again attached to the Duke of York's house- 
bold. He married Miss Sarah Jennings in 1681, 


and was created a peer of Scotland in 1682, and a 
peer of England soon after the Duke's accession to 
the throne, by the title of Baron Churchill of Sand- 
ridge in Hertfordshire. In this early part of his 
life he prudently abstained from active interference 
in politics. Gratitude and present interest combined 
to render him averse to thwart the wishes or policy 
of his master : political foresight and attachment to 
the established church warned him not to co-operate 
in the king's imprudent measures. He does not 
appear to have been embarrassed by an over-gene- 
rous and enthusiastic temper; and therefore, whether 
or no he was of those who invited William of Orange 
to England, he had the less difficulty, on the landing 
of that prince, in making up his mind to the painful 
task of abandoning a kind master and a falling 
cause. But, in doing so, he was guilty of no 
treachery. Entrusted with the command of 6000 
men, he carried over no troops, and betrayed no 
post ; but quietly withdrew with a few fellow-officers 
from King James's camp. 

Soon after the Revolution, Lord Churchill was 
sworn into the Privy Council, and created Earl of 
Marlborough. He commanded the British contin- 
gent in the Netherlands in 1689, and had a large 
share in gaining the battle fought at Walcourt, 
August 25. In the two following years he served 
in Ireland and on the Continent, with the high 
approbation of King William. But his prosperity 
was suddenly checked by an abrupt dismissal from 
all his offices. This was soon followed by his com- 
mittal to the Tower for high treason ; but the falsity 
of this charge, the profligate contrivance of an ob- 
scure criminal, was soon shown. The cause of his 
dismissal from office is not clearly ascertained : it 
has been assigned to his advocacy of the interests 
of the Princess Anne ; to his remonstrances against 


the undue favour shown by William towards his 
Dutch followers ; to the detection of a clandestine 
correspondence with James II. It is at least certain 
that such a correspondence existed, and that it is a 
deep stain upon the honesty of Marlborough's cha- 
racter ; whether we suppose him to have been earnest 
in the wish to bring back the Stuarts, or merely to 
have sought an opportunity for grace, if the political 
changes of that eventful period had restored the 
exiled family to the throne. 

Marlborough continued in disgrace imtil after the 
death of Queen Mary, which produced a reconcili- 
ation between the King and the Princess. In 1698 
he was recalled to the Privy Council, and appointed 
Governor to the presumptive heir to the crown, the 
young Duke of Gloucester. From that time to the 
King's death, he continued, ostensibly at least, in 
favour, though not employed in any military capa- 
city j and one of the King's last acts was to recom- 
mend him to Anne, as the fittest person to command 
her armies. This was not necessary to secure her 
favour. The Countess of Marlborough had long 
been endeared to her by the ties of a much closer 
and more familiar friendship than usually exists 
between a sovereign and a subject; and the Earl 
had stood in opposition to the court in support of 
her interests, and had been disgraced, as many 
believed, on that account. Accordingly, one of the 
Queen's first acts was to confer on him the order of 
the Garter, and to nominate him Captain-general of 
the forces, at home and abroad. He was mainly 
instrumental in inducing the new government to 
confirm the alliances made by the late King for 
prosecuting the war of the Spanish succession ; was 
sent ambassador to Holland, and finally invested 
with the command of the allied army. We can 
only give a summary pf the operations of each 


campaign in that war, in which Europe was deli- 
vered from the fear of France. The first, in 1702, 
was eminently successful, though the general was 
much hampered by the interference of the Dutch 
deputies who attended the army. The strong for- 
tresses which line the Meuse, from "Venloo to Liege, 
were wrested from France. The Queen expressed 
her gratitude for this auspicious beginning by con- 
ferring on Marlborough a dukedom, and a pension 
of 5000Z. : the two houses of Parliament voted their 
thanks. The following year was distinguished by 
no decisive events, chiefly owing to the difficulty of 
getting the Dutch to act with cordiality or concert : 
the conquests of the preceding campaign, however, 
were confirmed and extended. The memorable 
campaign of 1704 was remarkable for the boldness, 
political as well as military, of its conception, and 
the secrecy of its execution. The successes of the 
French in Germany having reduced the Emperor 
almost to despair, it became Marlborough's first 
object to prevent the total ruin of that monarch, 
and the consequent dissolution of the confederacy. 
To this end, Avithout communicating his real views 
either to the States or to the English ministry, he 
obtained their sanction for opening the next year's 
operations on the Moselle ; and passing that river, 
led his troops on to the Danube, and effected a 
junction with the imperial generals, the Margrave 
of Baden and Prince Eugene, almost before his real 
design was known at home, or even to the enemy. 
The first fruit of this was the battle of Schellenberg, 
near Donawerth, on the Danube, where the Elector 
of Bavaria's lines were forced, and his army beaten. 
The French, under Marshal Tallard, advanced to 
the support of their ally ; and, with the Bavarians, 
took up a strong position near Hochstet, their right 


flank resting on the village of Blenheim, and being 
covered by the Danube. The British and allied 
troops, commanded by Marlborough and Eugene, 
amounted to about 52,000 men; the enemy were 
rather more numerous, and very strongly posted. 
To engage was dangerous ; but the circumstances 
of the campaign rendered it necessary ; and, against 
the advice of several officers and the expectation of 
the French, the attack was made on the morning of 
August 7. After a bloody battle, the French posi- 
tion was carried, and their army utterly disorganised 
or destroyed. By this ^'ictory the whole Electorate 
of Bavaria fell into the hands of the Imperialists ; 
and the French were driven to repass the Rhine. 
The allies followed them, and besieged and took the 
strong fortress of Landau, while the Duke, by hasty 
marches, led a detachment to the Moselle, and 
secured the city of Treves and the fortified town of 
Traerbach. To this expedition he attached great 
importance. " I reckon," he said, " the campaign 
well over, since the winter quarters are settled on 
the Moselle, which I think will give France as much 
uneasiness as any thing that has been done this 
summer." In this single campaign the Emperor 
was relieved from the fear of being besieged in his 
capital ; Germany freed from the pressure of war ; 
and the troops established in those quarters which 
afforded the best prospect of opening the next cam- 
paign to advantage; and, above all, the charm of 
a long series of victories, the fancied invincibility of 
the French, was effectually destroyed. 

Every mark of gratitude which a nation can pay 
was bestowed on the Duke of Marlborough. To 
perpetuate the memory of his services, the royal 
manor of Woodstock was granted to him and to his 
heirs ; and in addition to this, in testimony of her 


own affection and respect, the Queen gave orders 
for erecting, at her own expense, the splendid pile of 

The advantages which Marlborough hoped to 
derive from his position on the Moselle were entirely 
lost, through the inactivity of the German confede- 
rates. As if aware that this would be the case, the 
French concentrated their exertions to recover their 
losses in the Netherlands ; and they succeeded so 
far that the Dutch sent pressing messages to Marl- 
borough to return to their help. He did so, and 
soon restored the superiority of the allies in that 
quarter. But his success was attended with morti- 
fication, for the German general left to act on the 
defensive on the Moselle abandoned his trust, and 
retired, having burnt the magazines collected on that 
river ; and thus effectually frustrated that scheme of 
invasion from the Moselle, to which Marlborough 
had attached so much importance. To guard against 
invasion from the Netherlands, the French had 
drawn strong lines across the country, from the 
Scheldt to the Meuse, from Antwerp to Namur, 
behind which Marshal Villeroi took post on Marl- 
borough's junction with the Dutch army. These lines, 
which had been three years in forming, at a vast ex- 
pense, were attacked and penetrated almost without 
resistance or loss. This success, if properly followed 
up, would have thrown all Brabant into Marlbo- 
rough's hands : he was continually embarrassed by 
the jealousy or supineness of the Dutch genei*als. 
Once, at the passage of the Dyle, and again nearly 
on the field of Waterloo, he was prevented from 
engaging, when he considered himself certain of 
victory. By these disappointments, the Duke was 
severely mortified. Whether from fear that the 
States, if affronted, would readily conclude a sepa- 
rate peace, or from whatever cause, the misbehaviour 


of the Dutch oflRcers and deputies was endured by 
the English Government and General with singular 
patience. On this occasion, Marlborough's remon- 
strances, public and private, though veiy guarded, 
procured the removal of those whose conduct had 
been most offensive. In the course of this autumn 
the Emperor Joseph created Marlborough a prince 
of the empire, and conferred on him the principality 
of Mindelheim. 

Disgusted by the vexatious contradiction to which 
he had been exposed in the past year, Marlborough 
earnestly desired to march an army into Italy, and 
to co-operate with Prince Eugene in driving the 
French beyond the Alps ; and he was empowered 
by the British cabinet to take this step. But he 
was unable to procure troops for the purpose either 
from the Dutch or from the German princes ; and 
he relinquished his intention the more willingly on 
account of some unexpected successes of the French 
on the Rhine. Marlborough opened the campaign 
of 1706 with a demonstration against Namur. 
Marshal Villeroi received positive orders to risk a 
battle for the safety of the place, and was anxious 
to fight before a reinforcement of Danish and Hano- 
verian troops could join the allies. The two armies 
met, in nearly equal numbers, near the village of 
Ramillies, May 23 ; and the French army received 
a signal overthrow, which led to the immediate sub- 
mission of all Brabant. Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, 
and the other chief towns of the province, opened 
their gates, and with expressions of joy acknowledged 
Charles of Austria as their legitimate sovereign, 
and the rightful heir to the Spanish crown. The 
siege of Ostend was the next military operation; 
and that important place, celebrated for its desperate 
resistance to the Spaniards in the preceding century, 
yielded in a few days. The strong towns of Menin, 


Dendermond, and Ath also submitted before the end 
of the campaign. 

The following year was fruitful in intrigues at 
home, and remarkable for the decline of the Duchess 
of Marlborough's favour with Queen Anne : the 
military operations were barren of incident or of 
interest. The campaign of 1708 opened with a 
reverse of fortune. Disgusted by the overbearing 
conduct of the Dutch, some of the most important 
places which had surrendered to the allies in the 
preceding year entered into negotiations to recall the 
French. Antwerp and 'Brussels were saved by a 
timely discovery of the plot. Ghent and Bruges 
passed over to the enemy, who prosecuted their 
success by forming the siege of Oudenard : but the 
rapid march of Marlborough compelled them to 
abandon this design, and brought on another battle, 
July 11, in which victory again rested with the allies. 
The next operation was to undertake the siege of 
Lille, one of the strongest fortresses of France, where 
the attempt v/as considered so impracticable, that 
it became the subject of general ridicule. It proved 
successful, however, in spite of the presence of a 
superior army, commanded by the Dukes of Ven- 
d6me and Berwick. The prosecution of the attack 
was committed to Prince Eugene, while Marlborough 
remained at the head of the covering army, which 
he manoeuvred so ably, that the enemy never found 
opportunity to venture a battle for the relief of Lille. 
Marshal Boufflers, the governor, surrendered the 
town October 23, after a gallant resistance of two 
months, and retired into the citadel, which he main- 
tained till December 9. Even at that late period of 
the season Ghent was besieged, and soon submitted. 
Bruges followed its example. " Thus terminated 
this extraordinary campaign, perhaps one of the 
most scientific occurring in the annals of military 


history. From the commencement to the close, the 
confederates had to struggle against a force far supe- 
rior in numbers; to attack an army posted in a 
position considered as impregnable ; to besiege a place 
of the first magnitude at the very moment when they 
were themselves in a manner invested ; to open and 
maintain their communications in spite of innu- 
merable obstacles, both of nature and art ; and, 
finally, to reduce, in the depth of winter, two for- 
tresses, defended by garrisons which, in other circum- 
stances, would have been considered as forming an 
army of no common magnitude."* 

Discouraged by these reverses, Louis commenced 
a negotiation for peace ; but the terras demanded by 
the allies were too hard, and with the return of 
spring both parties took the field with larger forces 
than had yet been brought together. Tournay, a 
place of formidable strength, but half garrisoned and 
half provided, soon yielded to the arms of the allies. 
The siege of Mons was next formed. No effort 
had been spared by the French to concentrate their 
forces against their most formidable enemy; and 
they took the field with an army not inferior to that 
of the allies. Vi liars, the most enterprising and 
successful of the French marshals, commanded in 
chief, and the gallant veteran, Marshal Boufflers, 
volunteered to serve under Villars, though his junior, 
A crowd of generals of minor note, yet well known 
in the wars of the age, filled the subordinate com- 
mands ; and the household troops, the Swiss and Irish 
brigades, with others, the flower of the French army, 
were collected in the camp. Not less imposing was 
the army on the other side, commanded by Marl- 
borough and Eugene, assisted by a train of princes and 
generals. Numerically, the two armies seem to have 

* Coxc. Life of Marlborough. 


been about equal ; and both were supported by formid- 
able parks of artillery. The spirit of the French 
soldiers was high, and Villars undertook to save 
Mons, at a hazard of a general engagement, which 
took place September 11, near the village of Mal- 
plaquet, a few miles south of the besieged town. 
Villars had spared no trouble to fortify a post natu- 
rally strong; and it was defended with desperate 
valour. The attack was commenced by the Dutch 
on the right of the enemy's line, and by Prince 
Eugene on the left. Little progress was made on 
these points, during an obstinate conflict of four 
hours; but the centre of the French line was 
weakened by the demands for reinforcements to the 
wings, and the crisis of the battle at length arrived 
in a successful attack made upon the centre. Bouf- 
flers made a desperate attempt with his cavalry, 
whom he led repeatedly to the charge, to retrieve the 
fortune of the day, but the progress of the allies was 
irresistible. He saw his right wing dislodged, his 
centre broken, and at length was compelled to order a 
retreat, which he conducted in a masterly manner, 
and without loss. All the generals signalised their 
courage in the hottest of the strife. Villars was 
severely wounded, and carried fainting off the field, 
so that the command devolved on Boufflers. 
Eugene was hurt, but refused to quit the field. 
Marlborough and Boufflers escaped almost by miracle. 
The generals were devotedly served by their officers 
and troops ; and the list of casualties presents an 
unusual number of names of the highest ranks. 
The official returns of the confederates show a loss 
of 18,250 men ; that of the French was probably 
considerably less. Villars asserted that it did not 
amount to 6000, and that the loss of the allies was 
35,000. In his anxiety for the honour of his troops, 
the Marshal said too much ; for if their loss was 


comparatively so small, they ought never to have 
been beaten. Nevertheless, there was some sem- 
blance of truth in his gasconade, that such another 
victory would destroy the enemy ; nor were the re- 
sults commensurate in importance with the loss of 
men. Mons was taken and the campaign con- 

After placing his troops in ^vinte^ quarters, the 
Duke, according to his usual practice, repaired to 
London. He found his favour on the decline, and 
the Whig ministry greatly shaken ; and after under- 
going many vexations, and having been on the point 
of resigning his command, he was glad to hasten his 
return to Holland. The most important events of 
the campaign of 1710 were the capture of Douay, 
followed by that of the smaller fortresses of St. 
Venant and Aire. The triple line of fortresses, 
which protected France on the side of the Nether- 
lands, was nearly broken through by these successes, 
and the capture of Arras would have opened the way 
to Paris ; but the skilful conduct of Villars rendered 
it impossible to besiege that town, and checked the 
progress of Marlborough, without risking a battle. 
In the course of the summer the long-projected 
change of ministry was completed, and Marlborough, 
still retaining the command, was forced to act in 
concert with his bitter enemies. His correspondence 
strongly portrays the mortification which he felt, and 
his evil auguries as to the event of the war. 

Villars spent the winter in completing a new 
series of lines, extending from Namur to the coast 
near Boulogne, by which he hoped to defend the 
interior of France ; and confident in their strength, 
he boasted that he had brought Marlborough to his 
ne plus vltra. To get within these lines was the 
British general's first object ; and by a long and 
deep-laid series of masterly manoeuvres, he fairly 


ouhvitted his antagonist, and passed the works which 
had cost such labour, without a shot being fired. 
This enabled him to take Bouchain, the last opera- 
tion of the campaign. Marlborough's ruin was 
now determined. He was deprived of his employ- 
ments in the beginning of 1712, and the utmost 
viinilence of party spirit was let loose against him. 
England therefore became uneasy to him, and he 
went abroad in the November following. He re- 
turned in August, 1714, and landed at Dover, just 
after the Queen's death. On the accession of George 
I. he was treated with respect, and reinstated in his 
offices of Captain-general and Master of the Ord- 
nance ; but he was not admitted to take a leading 
part in the measures of government. In May, 1716, 
he was struck by palsy ; but he recovered the pos- 
session of his bodily and mental powers, and con- 
tinued to attend Parliament and discharge the regular 
duties of his office. He tendered his resignation, 
but the King, out of respect, declined to accept it. 
From henceforward, however, we consider his pub- 
lic life as at an end. He died of a fresh attack of 
palsy, June 16, 1722, in the 72nd year of his age. 

It will be observed that we have taken no notice 
of Marlborough's conduct as a negotiator and a 
statesman, though for a time he was the master- 
spring which regulated, with princely power, the 
operations of half Europe. Our apology for this 
must be found in the length of this memoir : to have 
entered upon that still more complicated part of the 
subject would have doubled it. And if we have 
omitted to discuss the various heavy charges made 
against Marlborough's character, it is not that we 
believe or wish to represent him as a faultless hero, 
but that in such a memoir as this it is fairer, and 
to better purpose, to set forward the exceeding value 
of the services which he rendered to his country, 


than to expose his failings in a prominent light. 
And we believe those charges for which there was 
any ground to have been greatly exaggerated by 
partv spirit. 

The private character of Marlborough was adorned 
by many virtues, but lessened by some weaknesses 
which laid him very open to the venomed ridicule 
of his enemies ; we allude to his avarice, and his de- 
ference for his busy and imperious wife. He was 
prudent, clear-sighted, and not deceived nor led away 
by his passions ; faithful to his domestic, and diligent 
in the performance of his religious, duties. In the 
field he was humane, sedulous to promote the com- 
fort of his soldiers, and especially anxious, after 
battles, to minister all possible help and relief to the 
wounded. He was zealous in enforcing respect to the 
observances of religion, and in endeavouring to raise 
the moral character of his troops. " His camp," says 
a biographer who had sensed in it, " resembled a 
gi'eat, well-governed city. Cursing and swearing 
were seldom heard among the officers ; a sot and a 
drunkard was the object of scorn ; and the poor 
soldiers, many of them the refuse and dregs of the 
nation, became, at the close of one or two campaigns, 
tractable, ci\'il, sensible, and clean, and had an air 
and spirit above the vulgar." 

The Duchess of Marlborough collected ample 
materials for her husband's life, and committed the 
task of \^Titing it first to Glover, then to Mallet. 
Neither of them, however, executed the commission. 
Ledyard, who serv^ed under the Duke, published a 
life of him (from which the above quotation is taken), 
in three volumes 8vo., in 1736. The latest and the 
most important is that of Mr. Coxe. The mate- 
rials for the Duke's military history are abundant, 
but scattered : they ^vill be found indicated and re- 
ferred to in Coxe. His political history will be 



found in the histories of the times ; and the literature 
of the age — the v/orks of Burnet, Swift, Bolingbroke, 
and others — contain abundant references to the 
public and private actions of this great man.^ 



Christopher Wren, the most celebrated of British 
architects, was born at East Knoyle in Wiltshire, 
October 20, 1632. His father was Rector of that 
parish. Dean of Windsor, and Registrar of the 
Order of the Garter : his uncle, Dr. Matthew Wren, 
was successively Bishop of Hereford, of Norwich, 
and of Ely ; and was one of the greatest sufferers 
for the royal cause during the Commonwealth, 
having been imprisoned nearly twenty years in the 
Tower without ever having been brought to trial. 
The political predilections of Wren's family may be 
sufficiently understood from these notices; but he 
himself, although his leaning probably was to the 
side which had been espoused by his father and his 
uncle, seems to have taken no active part in state 
aflfairs. The period of his long life comprehended a 
series of the mightiest national convulsions and 
changes that ever took place in England — the civil 
war — the overthrow of the monarchy — the domi- 
nation of Cromwell — the Restoration — the Revolu- 
tion — the union with Scotland — and, finally, the ac- 
cession of a new family to the throne ; but we do 
not find that in the high region of philosophy and 

WREN. 61 

aft in which he moved, he ever allowed himself to 
be either withdrawn from or interrupted in his course 
by any of these great events of the outer world. 

His health in his early years was extremely de- 
licate. On this account he received the commence- 
ment of his education at home under the super- 
intendence of his father and a domestic tutor. He 
was then sent to Westminster School, over which 
the celebrated Busby had just come to preside. The 
only memorial which we possess of Wren's schoolboy 
days is a dedication in Latin verse, addressed by 
him to his father in his thirteenth year, of an astro- 
nomical machine which he had invented, and which 
seems from his description to have been a sort of 
apparatus for representing the celestial motions, such 
as we now call an orrery. His genius is also stated to 
have displayed itself at this early age in other me- 
chanical contrivances. 

In 1646 he was sent to Oxford, and entered as a 
gentleman commoner at Wadham College. Of his 
academical life we can say little more than that it 
confirmed the promise of his early proficiency. He 
was especially distinguished by his mathematical 
acquirements, and gained the notice and acquaint- 
ance of many of the most learned and influential 
persons belonging to the university. Several short 
treatises and mechanical inventions are assigned to 
this period of his life : but as these have long ceased 
to interest any but curious inquirers into the history 
of literature or science, we can only indicate their 
existence, and refer to other and more comprehensive 
works. In 1630 Wren graduated as Bachelor of 
Arts. He was elected Fellow of All Souls on the 
2nd of November, 1653, and took the degree of Master 
of Arts on the 12th of December in the same year. 
Of the subjects which engaged his active and ver- 
satile mind at this time, one of the chief was the 


62 WREN. 

science of Anatomy ; and he is, on apparently good 
grounds, thought to have first suggested and tried 
the interesting experiment of injecting liquids of 
various kinds into the veins of living animals, — a 
process of surgery, which, applied to the transfusion 
of healthy blood into a. morbid or deficient circula- 
tion, has been revived, not without some promise of 
important results, in our own day. Another subject 
which attracted much of his attention was the Baro- 
meter ; but he has no claim whatever, either to the 
invention of that instrument, or to the detection of 
the great principle of physics, of which it is an ex- 
emplification. The notion which has been taken up 
of his right to supplant the illustrious Torricelli 
here has arisen merely from mistaking the question 
with regard to the causes of the fluctuations in the 
height of the barometrical column, while the in- 
strument continues in the same place, for the en- 
tirely different question as to the cause why the fluid 
remains suspended at all ; about which, since the 
celebrated experiments of Pascal, published in 1647, 
there never has been any controversy. It was the 
former phenomenon only which was attributed by 
some to the influence of the moon, and which Wren 
and many of his contemporaries exercised their in- 
genuity, as many of their successors have done, in 
endeavouring to explain. 

In carrying on these investigations and experi- 
ments. Wren's diligence was stimulated and assisted 
by his having been admitted a member, about this 
period, of that celebrated association of philosophical 
inquirers, out of whose meetings, begun some years 
before, eventually arose the Royal Society. But, 
like several others of the more eminent members, he 
was soon removed from the comparative retirement 
of Oxford. On the 7th of August, 1657, being then 
only in his twenty-fifth year, he was chosen to tlie 

WREN.' ^ 

Professorship of Astronomy in Gresham College. 
This chair he held till the 8th of March, 1661, 
when he resigned it in consequence of having, on 
the 31st of January preceding, received the appoint- 
ment of Savilian Pi'ofessor of Astronomy at Oxford. 
On the r2th of September, 1661, he took his degree 
of Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford, and was soon 
after admitted ad eundem by the sister university. 
During all this time he had continued to cultivate 
assiduously the various branches of mathematical 
and physical science, and to extend his reputation 
both by his lectures and by his communications to 
the ' Philosophical Club,' as it was called, which, 
in 1658, had been transferred to London, and 
usually met on the Wednesday of every week at 
Gresham College, in Wren's class-room, and, on 
the Thursday, in that of his associate Rooke, the 
Professor of Geometry. The longitude, the calcula- 
tion of solar eclipses, and the examination and deli- 
neation of insects and animalculae by means of the 
microscope, may be enumerated among the subjects 
to which he is known to have devoted his attention. 
On the 15th of July, 1662,* he and his associates 
were incorporated under the title of the Royal 
Society ; and Wren, who drew out the preamble of 
the charter, bore a chief part in the effecting of this 

The future architect of St. Paul's had already 
been called upon to devote a portion of his time to 
the professional exercise of that art from which he 
was destined to derive his greatest and most lasting 
distinction. Sir John Denham, the poet, had on 
the Restoration been rewarded for his semces by the 

* In the Life of Boyle this eveut is stated to have occurred 
in 1663. A second charter was granted to the Society, in that 
year, on the 22nd of April. 


64 WREN. 

place of Surveyor of the Royal Works ; but although, 
in his own words, he then gave over poetical lines, 
and made it his business to draw such others as 
might be more sen'iceable to his Majesty, and he 
hoped more lasting, it soon became apparent that 
his genius was much better suited to " build the lofty 
rhyme" than to construct more substantial edifices. 
In these circumstances Wren, who was known among 
liis other accomplishments to be well acquainted 
with the principles of architecture, was sent for, 
and engaged to do the duties of the office in the 
capacity of Denham's assistant or deputy. This 
was in the year 1661. It does not appear that for 
some time he was employed in any work of conse- 
quence in his new character; and in 1663 it was 
proposed to send him out to Africa, to superintend 
the construction of a new harbour and fortifications 
at the town of Tangier, which had been recently 
made over by Portugal to the English Crown, on 
the marriage of Charles with the Infanta Catherine. 
This employment he wisely declined, alleging the 
injury he apprehended to his health from a residence 
in Africa. Meanwhile, the situation which he held, 
and his scientific reputation, began to bring him 
something to do at home. Sheldon, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, who was Chancellor of the University 
of Oxford, had resolved to erect at his own expense 
a new theatre, or hall, for the public meetings of the 
University ; and this building Wren was commis- 
sioned to design. The Sheldonian Theatre, cele- 
brated for its unrivalled roof of eighty feet in length 
by seventy in breadth, supported without either arch 
or pillar was Wren's first public work, having been 
begun this year, although it was not finished till 
1668. About the same time he was employed to 
erect a new chapel for Pembroke College, in the 

WRBN.' 65 

University of Cambridge, to be built at the charge 
of his uncle, the Bishop of Ely. 

But, while he was about to commence these 
buildings, he was appointed to take a leading part 
in another work, which ultimately became the 
principal occupation of the best years of his life, and 
enabled him to afford to his contemporaries and to 
posterity by far the most magnificent display of his 
architectural skill and genius. Ever since the 
Restoration, the repair of the Metropolitan Cathedral 
of St. Paul's, which during the time of the Com- 
monwealth had been surrendered to the most deplo- 
rable desecration and outrage, had been anxiously 
contemplated; and on the 18th of April, 1663, 
letters patent were at length issued by the King, ap- 
pointing a number of Commissioners, among whom 
Wren was one, to superintend the undertaking. 
Under their direction a survey of the state of the 
building was taken, and some progress was made in 
the reparation of its most material injuries, when, 
after the sum of between three and four thousand 
pounds had been expended, the great fire, which 
broke out on the night of Sunday, the 2nd of Sep- 
tember, 1666, on the following day reduced the 
whole pile to a heap of ruins. 

A considerable part of the year before this Wren 
had spent in Paris, having proceeded thither, it would 
seem, about Midsummer, 1665, and remained till the 
following spring. The object of his visit was to im- 
prove himself in the profession in which he had em- 
barked, by the inspection and study of the various 
public buildings which adorned the French capital, 
where the celebrated Bernini was at this time em- 
ployed on the Louvre, with a thousand workmen 
under him, occupied in all the various departments 
of the art, and forming altogether, in Wren's opinion, 
probably the best school of architecture to be then 


66 WREN. 

found in Europe. He appears accordingly to have 
employed his time, with his characteristic activity, 
in examining everything deserving of attention in 
the city and its neighbourhood ; and lost no oppor- 
tunity either of making sketches of remarkable 
edifices himself, or of procuring them from otliers, so 
that, as he writes to one of his correspondents, he 
hoped to bring liome with him almost all France on 
paper. The terrible visitation, which a few months 
after his return laid half the metropolis of his native 
countr\' in ashes, opened to him a much wider field 
whereon to exercise the talent which he had been 
thus eager to cultivate and strengthen by enlarged 
knowledge, than he could, while so engaged, have 
expected ever to possess. He was not slow to seize 
the opportunity ; and while the ashes of the city 
were yet alive, drew up a plan for its restoration, 
the leading features of which were a broad street 
running from Aldgate to Temple Bar, with a large 
square for the reception of the new cathedral of St. 
Paul ; and a range of handsome quays along the 
river. The paramount necessity of speed in restoring 
the dwellings of a houseless multitude prevented the 
adoption of this project ; and the new streets were 
in general formed nearly on the line of the old ones. 
But they were widened and straightened, and the 
houses were built of brick instead of wood. 

Soon after the fire, Wren was appointed Sur^'eyor- 
General and principal Architect for rebuilding the 
parish churches ; and on the 28th of March, 1669, 
a few days after tlie death of Sir John Denham, he 
was made Survej'^or-General of the Royal Works, 
the office which he had for some time executed as 
deputy. On the 30th of July he was unanimously 
chosen Surveyor General of the repairs of St. Paul's 
(another office which Denham had also held) by the 
commissioners appointed to superintend that work, 


of whom he was himself one. At first it was still 
thought possible to repair the cathedral ; and a part 
of it was actually fitted up as a temporary choir, and 
service performed in it. After some time, however, 
it became evident that the only way in which it could 
ever be restored was by rebuilding the whole from 
the foundation. Before the close of the year 1 672 
Wren had prepared and submitted to the King 
diiferent plans for the new church ; and his Majesty 
having fixed upon the one which he preferred, a 
commission for commencing the work was issued on 
the 12th of November, 1673. On the 20th of the 
same month. Wren, who had been re-appointed 
architect for the work, and also one of the commis- 
sioners, was knighted at Whitehall, having resigned 
his professorship at Oxford in the preceding April. 

During the space of time which had elapsed since 
the fire, the Surveyor- General of Public Works had 
begun or finished various minor buildings connected 
with the restoration of the city, and also some in 
other parts of the kingdom. Among the former 
may be mentioned the fine column called the Monu- 
ment ; the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in Cheap- 
side, the spire of which is considered the most beau- 
tiful he ever constructed, and a masterpiece of 
science, both begun in 1671, and finished in 1677; 
and the church of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, begun 
in 1672, and finished in 1679, the interior of which 
is one of the most exquisite specimens of architectural 
art which the world contains, and has excited, per- 
haps, more enthusiastic admiration than anything 
else that Wren had done. During the whole of this 
time, too, notwithstanding the little leisure which his 
professional avocations must have left him, he ap- 
pears to have continued his philosophical pursuits, 
and his attendance on the Royal Society, of which, 
from the first, he had been one of the most active 



[Interior of St. Stephen's, WalbioA.] 

and valuable members. His communications, and 
the experiments which he suggested, embraced some 
of the profoundest parts of astronomy and the mathe- 
matics, as well as various points in anatomy and 
natural history, and the chemical and mechanical 

The design which Wren had prepared for the 
new Cathedral, and which had been approved by the 

WREN. 69 

King, being that of which a model is still preserved 
in an apartment over the Morning-Prayer Chapel, 
did not in some respects please the majority of his 
brother-commissioners, who insisted that, in order 
to give the building the true cathedral form, the 
aisles should be added at the sides as they now 
stand, although the architect is said to have felt so 
strongly the injury done by that alteration, that he 
actually shed tears in speaking of it. This difficulty, 
however, being at length settled, his Majesty, on the 
14th May, 1675, issued his warrant for immediately 
commencing the work ; and accordingly, after a 
few weeks more had been spent in throwing down 
the old walls and removing the rubbish, the first 
stone was laid by Sir Christopher, assisted by his 
master-mason, Mr, Thomas Strong, on the 21st of 
June. From this time the building proceeded steadily 
till its completion in 1710; in which year the high- 
est stone of the lantern on the cupola was laid by 
Mr. Christopher Wren, the son of the architect, as 
representing his venerable father, now in the seventy- 
eighth year of his age. 

The salary which Sir Christopher Wren received 
as architect of St. Paul's was only 200^. a year. 
Yet in the last years of his superintendence a moiety 
of this pittance was withheld from him by the Com- 
missioners, under the authority of a clause which 
they had got inserted in an act of parliament en- 
titling them to keep back the money till the work 
should be finished, by way of thereby ensuring the 
requisite expedition in the architect. Even after 
the building had been actually completed, they still 
continued, on the same pretence, to refuse payment 
of the arrears due, alleging that certain things yet 
remained to be done, which, after all, objections and 
difficulties interposed by themselves alone prevented 
from being performed. Like his great predecessor, 

70 WREN. 

Michael Angelo, Wren was too honest and zealous 
in the discharge of his duty not to have provoked 
the enmity of many persons who had their private 
ends to serve in the discharge of a great public duty. 
He was at last obliged to petition the Queen on the 
subject of the treatment to which he was subjected ; 
but it was not till after a struggle of some years that 
he succeeded in obtaining redress. The faction by 
whom he was thus opposed even attempted to 
blacken his character by a direct charge of pecu- 
lation, or at least of connivance at that crime, in a 
pamphlet intitled ' Frauds and Abuses at St. Paul's,' 
which appeared in 1712, and in reference to which 
Sir Christopher deemed it proper to appeal to the 
public in an anonymous reply published the year 
after, wherein he vindicated himself triumphantly 
from the aspersions which had been thrown upon 

The other architectural works which he designed 
and executed during this period, both in London and 
elsewhere, are far too numerous to be mentioned in 
detail. Among them were the parish church of 
St. Bride, in Fleet Street, which was finished in 
1680, and the beautiful spire of which, originally 
two hundred and thirty-four feet in height, has been 
deemed to rival that of St. Mary-le-Bow ; the 
church of St. James, Westminster, finished in 1683, 
a building in almost all its parts not more remark- 
able for its beauty than for its scientific constitiction ; 
and of which the roof especially, both for its strength 
and elegance, and for its adaptation to the distinct 
conveyance of sound, has been reckoned a singularly 
happy triumph of art ; and the church of St. 
Andrew, Holborn, a fine specimen of a commo- 
dious and an imposing interior : besides many others 
of inferior note. In 1696 he commenced the build- 
ing of the present Hospital at Greenwich, of which 


he lived to complete the greater part. This is 
undoubtedly one of the most splendid erections of 
our great architect. Among his less successful 
works may be enumerated Chelsea Hospital, begun 
in 1682, and finished in 1690, a plain, but not an 
inelegant buildings his additions to the Palace of 
Hampton Court, carried on from 1690 to 1694, 
which are certainly not in the best taste ; and his 
repairs at Westminster Abbey, of which he was 
appointed Surveyor-General in 1698. In his 
attempt to restore and complete this venerable 
edifice, his ignorance of the principles of the Gothic 
style, and his want of taste for its peculiar beauties, 
made him fail perhaps more egregiously than on any 
other occasion. In 1679 he completed the Library 
of Trinity College, Cambridge, one of the most 
magnificent of his works ; and in 1683, the Chapel 
of Queen's College, and the Ashmolean Museum, 
at Oxford. The same year he began the erection 
of the extensive pile of Winchester Castle, originally 
intended for a royal palace, but now used as a military 
barrack. To these works are to be added a long 
list of halls for the city companies, and other public 
buildings, as well as a considerable number of private 
edifices. Among the latter was Marlborough House, 
Pall-Mall. Indeed scarcely a building of importance 
was undertaken during this long period which he 
was not called upon to design or superintend. The 
activity both of mind and body must have been 
extraordinary, which enabled him to accomplish 
what he did, not to speak of the ready and fertile 
ingenuity, and the inexhaustible sources of invention 
and science he must have possessed, to meet the 
incessant demands that were made for new and 
varying displays of his contriving skill. It appears, 
too, in addition to all this, that the duties imposed 
upon him by his place of Surveyor of Public Works, 

72 WREN. 

for which he only received a salary of 100/. a year, 
were of an extremely harassing description, and 
must have consumed a great deal of his time. 
Claims and disputes as to rights of property, and 
petitions or complaints in regard to the infringement 
of the building regulations in every part of the 
metropolis and its vicinity, seem to have been con- 
stantly submitted to his examination and adjudica- 
tion; and Mr. Elmes has printed many of his 
reports upon these cases from the original manu- 
scripts, which afford striking evidence both of the 
promptitude with which he gave his attention to the 
numerous calls thus made upon him, and of the 
large expenditure of time and labour they must have 
cost him. 

The long series of years during which Wren was 
occupied in the accomplishment of his greatest work, 
and which had conducted him from the middle stage 
of life to old age, brought to him also of course 
various other changes. He had been twice married, 
and had become the father of two sons and a 
daughter, of whom the eldest, Christopher, was the 
author of Parentalia, or Memoirs of the Family of 
the Wrens. In 1 680, he was elected to the Presi- 
dency of the Royal Society, on its being declined by 
Mr. Boyle ; and this honourable office he held for 
two years ; during which, notwithstanding all his 
other occupations, we find him occupying the chair 
in person at almost every meeting, and still continu- 
ing to take his usual prominent part in the scientific 
discussions of the evening. In 1684 there was added 
to his other appointments that of Comptroller of the 
Works at Windsor. In May, 1683, he entered par- 
liament as one of the members for Plympton ; and 
he also sat for Windsor both in the convention 
which met after the Revolution, and in the first 
parliament of William III. He afterwards sat for 

WREN. 73 

Weymouth In the parliament which met in February, 
1700, and which was dissolved in November of the 
year following. 

The evening of Wren's life was marked by neglect 
and ingratitude. In the eighty-sixth year of his 
age he was removed from the office of Surveyor- 
General, which he had held for forty-nine years, in 
favour of one Benson, whose incapacity and dis- 
honesty soon led to his disgrace and dismissal. 
Fortunately Wren's temper was too happy and 
placid to be affected by the loss of Court favour, and 
he retired to his home at Hampton Court, where he 
spent the last five years of his life chiefly in the 
study of the Scriptures, and the revision of his phi- 
losophical works. He died February 25, 1723, in 
the ninety-first year of his age. 

More minute accounts of his life are to be found 
in the Parentalia, already mentioned, and in Mr. 
Elmes's quarto volume. We may also refer the 
reader to a longer memoir in the Library of Useful 



At the close of the sixteenth century, the dominions 
of Russia, or Muscovy, as it was then more gene- 
rally called, were far thrown back from the more 
civilised nations of southern Europe, by the inter- 
vention of Lithuania, Livonia, and other provinces 
now incorporated in the Russian empire, but then 
belonging either to Sweden or Poland. The Czar 
of Muscovy therefore possessed no political weight 
in the affairs of Europe ; and little intercourse ex- 
isted between the Court of Moscow and the more 
polished potentates whom it affected to despise as 
barbarians, even for some time after the accession 
of the reigning dynasty, the house of Romanof, in 
1613, and the establishment of a more regular go- 
vernment than had previously been known. We 
only read occasionally of embassies being sent to 
Moscow, in general for the puqjose of arranging 
commercial relations. From this state of insigni- 

PETER. 75 

ficance, Peter, the first Emperor of Russia, raised 
his country, by introducing into it the arts of peace, 
by establishing a well organised and disciplined army 
in the place of a lawless body of tumultuous muti- 
neers, by creating a navy, where scarce a merchant 
vessel existed before, and, as the natural result of 
these changes, by important conquests on both the 
Asiatic and European frontiers of his hereditaiy 
dominions. For these services his countrymen be- 
stowed on him, yet living, the title of Great ; and it 
is well deserved, whether we look to the magnitude 
of those services, the difficulty of carrying into effect 
his benevolent designs, which included nothing less 
than the remodelling a whole people, or the grasp 
of mind, and the iron energy of will, which was 
necessary to conceive such projects, and to overcome 
the difficulties which beset them. It will not vitiate 
his claim to the epithet, that his manners were 
coarse and boisterous, his amusements often ludicrous 
and revolting to a polished taste : if that claim be 
questionable, it is because he who aspired to be the 
reformer of others was unable to control the violence 
of his own passions. 

The Czar Alexis, Peter's father, was actuated by 
somewhat of the spirit which so distinguished the 
son. He endeavoured to introduce the European 
discipline into his armies ; he had" it much at heart 
to turn the attention of the Russians to maritime 
pursuits ; and he added the fine provinces of Plescow 
and Smolensko to his paternal dominions. At the 
death of Alexis, in 1677, Peter was but five years 
old. His eldest brother Theodore succeeded to the 
throne. Theodore died after a reign of five years, 
and named Peter his successor. We pass in silence 
over the intrigues and insurrections which troubled 
the young Czar's minority. It was not until the 
close of the vear 1689, in the eighteenth year of his 

F 2 



age, that he finally shook off the trammels of an 
ambitious sister, and assumed in reality, as well as 
in name, the direction of the state. How he had 
been qualified for this task by education does not 
clearly appear ; but even setting aside the stories which 
attribute to his sister the detestable design of leading 
him into all sort of excess, and especially drunken- 
ness, with the hope of ruining both his constitution 
and intellect, it is probable that no pains whatever 
had been taken to form his intellect or manners for 
the station which he was to occupy. One of the few 
anecdotes told of his early life is, that being struck 
by the appearance of a boat on the river Yausa, 
which runs through Moscow, which he noticed to 
be of different construction from the flat-bottomed 
vessels commonly in use, he was led to inquire into 
the method of navigating it. It had been built for 
the Czar Alexis by a Dutchman, who was still in 
Moscow. He was immediately sent for : he rigged 
and repaired the boat; and under his guidance the 
young prince learnt how to sail her, and soon grew 
passionately fond of his new amusement. He had 
five small vessels built at Plescow, on tlie lake Peipus ; 
and not satisfied with this fresh-water navigation, 
hired a ship at Archangel, in which he made a 
voyage to the coast of Lapland. In these expeditions 
his love of sailing was nourished into a passion which 
lasted through life. He prided himself upon liis 
practical skill as a seaman ; and both at this time 
and afterwards exposed himself and liis friends to no 
small hazard by his rashness in following this favour- 
ite pursuit. 

The first serious object of Peter's attention was to 
reform the army. In this he was materially assisted 
by a Swiss gentleman named Lefort ; at whose sug- 
gestion he raised a company of fifty men, who were 
clothed and disciplined in the European manner; 

PETER. ^7 

the Russian army at that time beinpf little better 
than a tribe of Tartars. As soon as the little corps 
was formed, Peter caused himself to be enrolled in 
it as a private soldier. It is a remarkable trait in 
the character of the man, that he thought no con- 
descension degrading, which forwarded any of his 
ends. In the army he entered himself in the lowest 
rank, and performed successively the duties of every 
other : in the navy he went still further, for he in- 
sisted on performing the menial duties of the lowest 
cabin-boy, rising step by step, till he was qualified 
to rate as an able seaman. Nor was this done merely 
for the sake of singularity ; he had resolved that 
every officer of the sea or land service should enter 
in the lowest rank of his profession, that he might 
obtain a practical knowledge of every task or ma- 
noeuvre which it was his duty to see properly executed ; 
and he felt that his nobility might scarcely be 
brought to submit to what in their eyes would be a 
degradation, except by the personal example of the 
Czar himself. By the help of Lefort and some 
veteran officers, several of whom, and those the 
objects of his especial confidence, were Scotchmen, 
he was enabled in a short time to command the 
services of a large body of disciplined troops, com- 
posed, one corps principally of foreigners, another of 
natives. Meanwhile he had not been negligent of 
the other arm of war ; for a number of Dutch and 
Venetian workmen were employed in building gun- 
boats and small ships of war at Voronitz, on the 
river Don, intended to secure the command of the 
sea of Asof, and to assist in capturing the strong 
town of Asof, then held by the Turks. The possession 
of this place was of great importance, from its situ- 
ation at the mouth of the Don, commanding access 
to the Mediterranean seas. His first military attempts 

78 PETER. 

were accordingly directed against it, and he succeeded 
in taking it in 1696. 

In the spring of the ensuing year, the empire 
heing tranquil, and the young Czar's authority ap- 
parently established on a safe footing, he determined 
to travel into foreign countries, to view with his own 
eyes, and become personally and practically familiar 
with the arts and institutions of refined nations. 
There was a g"rotesqueness in his manner of exe- 
cuting this design, which has tended, more probably 
than even its real merit, to make it one of the com- 
mon places of history. Every child knows how the 
Czar of Muscovy worked in the dock-yard of Saardam 
in Holland, as a common carpenter. In most men 
this would have been affectation ; and perhaps there 
was some tinge of that weakness in the earnestness 
with which Peter handled the axe, obeyed the officers 
of the dock-yard, and, in all points of outward man- 
ners and appearance, put himself on a level with the 
shipwrights who were earning their daily bread. 
Most men too would have thought it unnecessary, 
that a prince, intent upon creating a navy, should 
learn the mere mechanical art of putting a ship 
together ; and that his time would have been better 
employed in studying the sciences connected with 
navigation, and the discipline and details of the 
naval service as established in the best schools. It 
seems, however, to have been the turn of Peter's 
mind always to begin at the beginning; a sound 
maxim, though here perhaps pushed beyond reason- 
able bounds. "We have said, that he scrupulously 
went through the lowest services in the army and 
navy : probably he thought it as necessary that one 
who aimed at creating and directing a navy should 
not be ignorant of the practical art of ship-building, 
as that a general should be capable of performing 

PETER. 79 

himself the movements which he directs the private 
to execute. And his abode and occupations in Hol- 
land formed only part of an extensive plan. On 
quitting Russia he sent sixty young Russians to 
Venice and Leghorn to learn ship-building and 
navigation, and especially the construction and 
management of galleys moved by oars, which were 
so much used by the Venetian republic. Others he 
sent into Holland, with similar instructions ; others 
into Germany, to study the art of v;-ar, and make 
themselves well acquainted with the discipline and 
tactics of the German troops. So that while his 
personal labour at Saardam may have been stimu- 
lated in part by affectation of singularity, in part 
perhaps by a love of bodily exertion common in men 
of his busy and ardent temper, it would be unjust 
not to give him credit for higher motives ; such as 
the desire to become thoroughly acquainted with the 
art of ship-building, which he thought so important, 
and to set a good example of diligence to those 
whom he had sent out on a similar voyage of edu- 

Peter remained nine months in Holland, the 
greatest part of which he spent in the dock-yard of 
Saardam. He displayed unwearied zeal in seeking 
out and endeavouring to comprehend every thing of 
interest in science and art, especially in visiting 
manufactories. In January, 1698, he sailed for 
London in an English man-of-war, sent out ex- 
pressly to bring him over. His chief object was to 
perfect himself in the higher branches of ship-build- 
ing. With this view he occupied Mr. Evelyn's 
house, adjoining the dock-yard of Deptford; and 
there remain in that gentleman's journal some 
curious notices of the manners of the Czar and his 
household, which were of the least refined description. 
During his stay he showed the same earnestness in 

80 PETER. 

inquiring Into all things connected with the maritime 
and commercial greatness of the country, as before 
in Holland; and he took away near five hundred 
persons in his suite, consisting of naval captains, 
pilots, gunners, surgeons, and workmen in various 
trades, especially those connected with the naval 
service. In England, without assuming his rank, 
he ceased to wear the attire and adopt the habits of 
a common workman ; and he had frequent inter- 
course with William III., who is said to have con- 
ceived a strong liking for him, notwithstanding the 
uncouthness of his manners. Kneller painted a 
portrait of him for the King, which is said to have 
been a good likeness. 

He left London in April, 1698, and proceeded to 
Vienna, principally to inspect the Austrian troops, 
then esteemed among the best in Europe. He had 
intended to visit Italy; but his return was hastened 
by the tidings of a dangerous insurrection having 
broken out, which, though suppressed, seemed to 
render a longer absence from the seat of government 
inexpedient. The insurgents were chiefly composed 
of the Russian soldiery, abetted by a large party 
who thought every thing Russian good, and hated 
and dreaded the Czar's innovating temper. Of those 
who had taken up arms, many were slain in battle ; 
the rest, with many persons of more rank and con- 
sequence, suspected of being implicated in the revolt, 
were retained in prison until the Czar himself should 
decide their fate. Numerous stories of his extra- 
vagant cruelties on this occasion have been told, 
which n;ay safely be passed over as unworthy of 
credit. It is certain, however, that considerable 
severity was shown. Many citizens who had not 
borne arms were condemned to death as instigators 
of the rebellion, and their frozen bodies exposed on 
the gibbets, or thrown by the way-side, remained 

PETER. 81 

throughout the winter, a fearful spectacle to passers 
by. In some accounts it is stated that two thousand 
of the soldiery were put to death : but the absurd 
falsehoods told of Peter's conduct on this occasion 
aiford opportunity for a doubt, which we gladly en- 
tertain, whether justice was sujSered to lead to such 
wholesale butchery. This insurrection led to the 
complete remodelling of the Russian army, on 
the same plan which had already been partially 

During the year 1 699 the Czar was chiefly oc- 
cupied by civil reforms. According to his own 
account, as published in his journal, he regulated 
the press, caused translations to be published of 
various treatises on military and mechanical science, 
and history; he founded a school for the navy; 
others for the study of the Latin, German, and 
other languages ; he encouraged his subjects to 
cultivate foreign trade, which before they had abso- 
lutely been forbidden to do under pain of death ; he 
altered the Russian calendar, in which the year 
began on September 1 , to agree in that point with 
the practice of other nations ; he broke through the 
Oriental custom of not suffering women to mix in 
general society ; and he paid sedulous attention to 
the improvement of his navy on the river Don. We 
have the testimony of Mr. Deane, an English ship- 
builder, that tlie Czar had turned his manual labours 
to good account, who states in a letter to England, 
that " the Czar has set up a ship of sixty guns, 
where he is both foreman and master-builder; and, 
not to flatter him, I'll assure your Lordship it will 
be the best ship among them, and it is all from his 
own draught : how he framed her together, and how 
he made the moulds, and in so short a time as he 
did is really wonderful." 

He introduced an improved breed of sheep from 


82 PETER. 

Saxony and Silesia ; despatched engineers to survey 
the different provinces of his extensive empire ; sent 
persons skilled in metallurgy to the various districts 
in which mines were to be- found ; established manu- 
factories of arms, tools, stuffs ; and encouraged 
foreigners skilled in the useful arts to settle in Russia, 
and enrich it by the produce of their industry. 

We cannot trace the progress of that protracted 
contest between Sweden and Russia, in which the 
short-lived greatness of Sweden was broken : we can 
only state the causes of the war, and the important 
results to which it led. Peter's principal motive for 
engaging in it was his leading wish to make Russia 
a maritime and commercial nation. To this end it 
was necessary that she should be possessed of ports, 
of which however she had none but Archangel and 
Asof, both most inconveniently situated, as well in 
respect of the Russian empire itself, as of the chief 
commercial nations of Europe. On the waters of 
the Baltic Russia did not possess a foot of coast. 
Both sides of the Baltic, both sides of the Gulf of 
Finland, the country between the head of that gulf 
and the lake Ladoga, including both sides of the 
river Neva, and the western side of lake Ladoga 
itself, and the northern end of lake Peipus, belonged 
to Sweden. In the year 1700, Charles XIL being 
but eighteen years of age, Denmark, Poland, and 
Russia, which had all of them suffered from the 
ambition of Sweden, formed a league to repair their 
losses, presuming on the weakness usually inherent 
in a minority. The object of Russia was the resto- 
ration of the provinces of Ingria, Carelia, and 
Wiborg, the country round the head of the Gulf of 
Finland, which formerly had belonged to her ; that 
of Poland, was the recovery of Livonia and Esthonia, 
the greater part of which had been ceded by her 
to Charles XL of Sweden. Denmark was to obtain 

PETER. 83 

Holstein and Sleswick. But Denmark and Poland 
very soon withdrew, and left Russia to encounter 
Sweden single-handed. To this she was entirely- 
unequal ; her army, the bulk of it undisciplined, and 
even the disciplined part unpractised in the field, 
was no match for the veteran troops of Sweden, the 
terror of Germany. In the battle of Narva, a town 
on the river which runs out of the Peipus lake, 
fought November 30, 1700, nine thousand Swedes 
defeated signally near forty thousand Russians, 
strongly intrenched and with a numerous artillery. 
Had Charles prosecuted his success with vigour, he 
might probably have delayed for many years the 
rise of Russia ; but whether from contempt or mis- 
take he devoted his whole attention to the war in 
Poland, and left the Czar at liberty to recruit and 
discipline his army, and improve the resources of 
his kingdom. In these labours he was most diligent. 
His troops, practised in frequent skirmishes with 
the Swedes quartered in Ingria and Livonia, rapidly 
improved, and on the celebrated field of Pultowa 
broke for ever the power of Charles XII. This 
decisive action did not take place until July 8, 1709. 
The interval was occupied by a series of small, but 
important additions to the Russian territory. In 
1701-2, great part of Livonia and Ingria were 
subdued, including the banks of the Neva, where, 
on May 27, 1703, the city of St. Petersburg was 
founded. It was not till 1710 that the conquest of 
Courland, with the remainder of Livonia, including 
the important harbours of Riga and Revel, gave to 
Russia that free navigation of the Baltic sea which 
Peter had longed for as the greatest benefit which 
he could confer upon his country. 

After the battle of Pultowa Charles fled to Turkey, 
where he continued for some years, shut out from 
his own dominions, and intent chiefly on spiriting 

84 PETER. 

the Porte to make war on Russia. In this he suc- 
ceeded ; but hostilities were terminated almost at 
their beginning, by the battle of the Pi-uth, fought 
July 20, 1711, in which the Russian army, not 
mustering more than forty thousand men, and sur- 
rounded by five times that number of Turks, owed 
its preservation to Catherine, first the mistress, at 
this time the wife, and finally the acknowledged 
partner and successor of Peter in the throne of 
Russia. By her coolness and prudence, while the 
Czar, exhausted by fatigue, anxiety, and self- 
reproach, was labouring under nervous convulsions, 
to which he was liable throughout life, a treaty was 
concluded with the Vizier in command of the 
Turkish army, by which the Russians preserved 
indeed life, liberty, and honour, but were obliged to 
resign Asof, to give up the forts and burn the vessels 
built to command the sea bearing that name, and 
to consent to other stipulations, which must have 
been very bitter to the hitherto successful conqueror. 
Returning to the seat of government, his foreign 
policy for the next few years was directed to breaking 
down the power of Sweden, and securing his new 
metropolis by prosecuting his conquests on the 
northern side of the Gulf of Finland. Here he was 
entirely successful ; and the whole of Finland itself, 
and of the gulf, fell into his hands. These provinces 
were secured to Russia by the peace of Nieustadt, 
in 1721. Upon this occasion, the senate or state 
assembly of Russia requested him to assume the 
title of Emperor of all the Russias, with the 
adjuncts of Great, and Father of his Country. 

Of the private history and character of Peter, we 
have hitherto said nothing. He was passionately 
fond of ardent spirits, and not only drank very 
largely himself, but took a pleasure in compelling 
others to do the same, until the royal banqueting- 

PETER. 85 

loom hecame a scene of the most revolting de- 
baucheiy and intoxication. But towards the close 
of life, his habits, when alone, were temperate even 
to abstemiousness. In his domestic relations he 
was far from happy. At the age of seventeen he 
married a Russian lady, named Eudoxia Lapouchin, 
whom he divorced in less than three years. Ac- 
cording to some accounts, this separation was caused 
by her infidelities ; according to others, by her 
obstinate hostility to all his projects of improvement; 
a hostility inculcated and encouraged by the priest- 
hood, in whose eyes all change was an abomination, 
and the worst of changes those made professedly in 
imitation of the barbarous nations inhabiting the 
rest of Europe. By her the Czar had one son, 
Alexis, heir to the throne; who, under the guardian- 
ship of his weak and bigoted mother, grew up in the 
practice of all low debauchery, and with the same 
deference to the priesthood, and dislike to change, 
which had cost herself the society of her husband. 
The degeneracy of this, his eldest, and long his only 
son, was a serious affliction to Peter ; the more so, 
if he reflected justly, because he could not hold him- 
self guiltless of it, in having intrusted the education 
of his legitimate successor to one, of whose incapa- 
city for the charge he had ample proof. It appears 
from authentic documents that even so early as the 
battle of the Pruth, Peter had contemplated the 
necessity of excluding his son from the throne. In 
the close of the year 1716, he addressed a serious 
expostulation to Alexis, in which, after reviewing 
the errors of his past life, he declared his fixed 
intention of cutting off the prince from the succes- 
sion, unless he should so far amend as to afford a 
reasonable hope of his reigning for the good of his 
people. He required him either to work a thorough 
reformation in his life and manners, or to retire to a 

86 PETER. 

monastery ; and allowed him six morxths to delibe- 
rate upon this alternative. At the end of the time 
Alexis quitted Russia, under pretence of going to 
his father at Copenhagen ; but instead of doing so 
he fled to Vienna. He was induced, however, to 
return by promises of forgiveness, mixed with threats 
in the event of his continued disobedience, and 
arrived at Moscow, February 13, 1718. On the 
following day the clergy, the chief officers of state, 
and the chief nobility were convened, and Alexis, 
being brought before them as a prisoner, acknow- 
ledged himself unworthy of the succession, which 
he resigned, entreating only that his life might be 
spared. A declaration was then read on the part of 
the Czar, reciting the various delinquencies of which 
his son had been guilty, and ending with the solemn 
exclusion of him from the throne, and the nomination 
of Peter, his own infant son by Catherine, as the 
future emperor. To this solemn act of renunciation 
Alexis set his hand. Thus far there is nothing to 
blame in the parent's conduct, unless it be consi- 
dered that in the promise of forgiveness a reservation 
of his son's hereditary right was implied. His 
subsequent conduct was severe, if not faithless. 
Not content with what had been done, Peter deter- 
mined to extract from Alexis a full confession of the 
plans which he had entertained, and of the names 
of his advisers. For near five months the wretched 
young man was harassed by constant interrogatories, 
in his replies to which considerable prevarication 
took place. It was on the ground of this prevari- 
cation that, in July, 1718, the Czar determined to 
bring his son to trial. By the laws of Russia a 
father had power of life or death over his child, and 
the Czar absolute power over the lives of his subjects. 
Waving these rights, however, if such oppressive 
privileges deserve the name, he submitted tlie ques- 

PETER. ' 87 

tion to an assembly of the chief personages of the 
reahn ; and the document which he addressed to 
them on this occasion bears strong evidence to the 
honesty of his purpose, unfeeling as that purpose 
must appear. On July 5, that assembly unani- 
mously pronounced Alexis worthy of death, and on 
the next day but one Alexis died. The manner of 
his death will never probably be entirely cleared up. 
Rumour of course attributed it to violence; but 
there are many circumstances which render this 
improbable. One argument against it is to be found 
in the character of Peter himself, who would hardly 
have hesitated to act this tragedy in the face of the 
world, had he thought it necessary to act it at all. 
Why he should have incurred the guilt of an action 
scarce one degree removed from midnight murder, 
when the object might have been effected by legal 
means, and the odium was already incurred, it is not 
easy to say. He courted publicity for his conduct, 
and submitted himself to the judgment of Europe, 
by causing the whole trial to be translated into 
several languages, and printed. His own statement 
intimates that he had not intended to enforce the 
sentence; and proceeds to say that on July 6, 
Alexis, after having heard the judgment read, was 
seized by fits resembling apoplexy, and died the fol- 
lowing day, having seen his father and received his 
forgiveness, together with the last rites of the Greek 
religion. This is the less improbable, because 
intemperance had injured the prince's constitution, 
and a tendency to fits vi'as hereditary in the family. 

If our sketch of the latter years of Peter's life 
appear meagre and unsatisfactory, it is to be recol- 
lected that the history of that life is the history of a 
great empire, which it would be vain to condense 
within our limits, were they greater than they are. 
Jlesults are all that we are competent to deal with. 



From the peace of Nieustadt, the exertions of Peter, 
still unremitting, were directed more to consolidate 

PETER. 89 

and improve the internal condition of the empire, 
by watching over the changes which he had already 
made, than to effect farther conquests, or new revo- 
lutions in policy or manners. He died February 8, 
1725, leaving no surviving male issue. Some time 
before, he had caused the Empress Catherine to be 
solemnly crowned and associated with him on the 
throne, and to her he left the charge of fostering 
those schemes of civilization which he had originated. 
Of the numerous works which treat wholly or in 
part of the history of Peter the Great, that of Vol- 
taire, not the most trustworthy, is probably the most 
widely known. Fuller information will be found in 
the ' Journal de Pierre le Grand, ecrit par lui- 
meme ;' in the memoirs published under the name 
of Nestesuranoi, and the Anecdotes of M. Stsehlin. 
For English works, we may refer to Tooke's History 
of Russia, and the ' Life of Peter,' in the Family 


Isaac Newton was born on Christmas-day, 1642 
(O. S.), at Woolsthorpe, a hamlet in the parish of 
Colsterworth, in Lincolnshire. In that spot his 
family had possessed a small estate for more than a 
hundred years ; and his father died there a few 
months after his marriage to Harriet Ayscough, 
and before the birth of his son. The widow soon mar- 
ried again, and removed to North Witham, the 
rectory of her second husband, Mr. Smith, leaving 
her son, a weakly child who had not been expected 
to live through the earliest infancy, under the charge 
of her mother. 

Newton's education was commenced at the parish 
school, and at the age of twelve he was sent to 
Grantham for classical instruction. At first he 
was idle, but soon rose to the head of the school. 
The peculiar bent of his mind soon showed itself in 


his recreations. He was fond of drawing, and 
sometimes wrote verses ; but he chiefly amused him- 
self with mechanical contrivances. Among these 
was a model of a wind-mill, turned either by the 
wind, or by a mouse enclosed in it, which he called 
the miller; a mechanical carriage moved by the 
person who sat in it ; and a water-clock, which was 
long used in the family of Mr. Clarke, an apothecary, 
with whom he boarded at Grantham. This was 
not his only method of measuring time : the house 
at Woolsthorpe, whither he returned at the age of 
fifteen, still contains dials made by him during his 
residence there. 

Mr. Smith died in 1656, and his widow then 
returned to Woolsthorpe with her three children 
by her second marriage. She brought Newton him- 
self also thither, in the hope that he might be useful 
in the management of the farm. This expectation 
was fortunately disappointed. When sent to Grant- 
ham on business, he used to leave its execution to 
the servant who accompanied him, and passed his 
time in reading, sometimes by the way-side, some- 
times at the house of Mr. Clarke. His mother no 
longer opposed the evident tendency of his disposi- 
tion. He returned to school at Grantham, and was 
removed thence in his eighteenth year to Trinity 
College, Cambridge. 

The 5th of June, 1660, was the day of his ad- 
mission as a sizer into that distinguished society. 
He applied himself eagerly to the study of mathe- 
matics, and mastered its difficulties with an ease 
and rapidity which he was afterwards inclined 
almost to regret, from an opinion that a closer at- 
tention to its elementary parts would have improved 
the elegance of his own methods of demonstration. 
In 1664 he became a scholar of his college, and in 
1661 was elected to a fellowship, which he retained 


beyond the regular time of its expiration in 1675, 
by a special dispensation authorising him to hold 
it without taking orders. 

It is necessary to return to an earlier date, to 
trace the series of Newton's discoveries. This is 
not the occasion for a minute enumeration of them, 
or for any elaborate discussion of their value or ex- 
planation of their principles ] but their history and 
succession require some notice. The earliest appear 
to have related to pure mathematics. The study of 
Dr. Wallis's works led him to investigate certain 
properties of series, and this course of research soon 
conducted him to the celebrated Binomial Theorem. 
The exact date of his invention of the method of 
Fluxions is not known ; but it was anterior to 1666, 
when the breaking out of the plague obliged him 
for a time to quit Cambridge, and consequently 
when he was only about twenty-three years old. 

This change of residence interrupted his optical 
researches, in which he had already laid the foun- 
dation of his great discoveries. He had decomposed 
light into the coloured rays of which it is com- 
pounded, and liaving- thus ascertained the principal 
cause of the confusion of the images formed by re- 
fraction, he had turned his attention to the construc- 
tion of telescopes which should act by reflection, and 
be free from this evil. He had not, however, over- 
come the practical difficulties of his undertaking, 
when his retreat from Cambridge for a time stopped 
this train of experiment and invention. 

On quitting Cambridge Newton retired to Wools- 
thorpe, where his mind was principally employed 
upon the system of the world. The theory of 
Copernicus and the discoveries of Galileo and Kepler 
had at length furnished the materials from which 
the true system was to be deduced. It was indeed 
all involved in Kepler's celebrated laws. The 


equable description of areas proved the existence 
of a central force ; the elliptical form of the planetary 
orbits, and the relation between their magnitude 
and the time occupied in describing them, ascer- 
tained the law of its variation. But no one had 
arisen to demonstrate these necessary consequences, 
or even to conjecture the universal principle from 
which they were derived. The existence of a central 
force had been surmised, and the law of its action 
guessed at ; but no proof had been given of either, 
and little attention had been awakened by the con- 

Newton's discovery appears to have been quite 
independent of any speculations of his predecessors. 
The circumstances attending it are well kno\vn : 
the very spot in which it first dawned upon him is 
ascertained. He was sitting in the garden at Wools- 
thorpe, when the fall of an apple called his attention 
to the force which caused its descent, to the probable 
limits of its action and law of its operation. Its 
power was not sensibly diminished at any distance 
at which experiments had been made : might it not 
then extend to the moon and guide that luminary 
in her orbit ? It was certain that her motion was 
regulated in the same manner as that of the planets 
round the sun : if, therefore, the law of the sun's 
action could be ascertained, that by which the earth 
acted would also be found by analogy. Newton, 
therefore, proceeded to ascertain by calculation from 
the known elements of the planetary orbits, the law 
of the sun's action. The great experiment remained : 
the trial whether the moon's motions showed the 
force acting upon her to correspond with the theo- 
retical amount of terrestrial gravity at her distance. 
The result was disappointment. The trial was to 
be made by ascertaining the exact space by which 
the earth's action turned the moon aside from her 
course in a given time. This depended on her actual 


distance from the earth, which was only kno\A'n by 
comparison \vith the earth's diameter. The received 
estimate of that quantity was very erroneous ; it 
proceeded on the supposition that a degree of latitude 
was only sixty English miles, nearly a seventh part 
less than its actual length. The calculation of the 
moon's distance, and of the space described by lier, 
gave results involved in the same proportion of error ; 
and thus the space actually described appeared to be 
a seventh part less than that which corresponded to 
the theory. It was not Newton's habit to force the 
results of experiments into comformity with h^iJO- 
thesis. He could not, indeed, abandon his leading 
idea, which rested, in the case of the planetary 
motions, on something very nearly amounting to de- 
monstration. But it seemed that some modification 
was required before it could be applied to the moon's 
motion, and no satisfactory solution of the difficulty 
occurred. The scheme therefore was incomplete, 
and in conformity with his constant habit of pro- 
ducing nothing till it was fully matured, Newton 
kept it undivulged for many years. 

On his return to Cambridge Newton again ap- 
plied himself to the construction of reflecting tele- 
scopes, and succeeded in effecting it in 1668. In 
the following year Dr. Barrow resigned in his favour 
the Lucasian professorship of mathematics, Avhich 
Newton continued to hold till the year 1703, when 
VVhiston, who had been his deputy from 1699, suc- 
ceeded him in the chair. On January 11, 1672, 
Newton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. 
He was then best known by the invention of the 
reflecting telescope ; but immediately on his election 
he communicated to the Society the particulars of 
his theory of light, on which he had already 
delivered three courses of lectures at Cambridge, 
and they were shortly afterwards published in the 
Philosophical Transactions. 


It is impossible here to state the various pheno- 
mena of light and colours which were first detected 
and explained by Newton. They entirely changed 
the science of optics, and every advance which has 
since been made in it has only added to the import- 
ance and confirmed the value of his observations. 
The success of the new theory was complete. 
Newton, however, was much vexed and harassed 
by the discussions which it occasioned. The annoy- 
ance which he thus experienced made him even 
think of abandoning the pursuit of science, and 
although it failed to withdraw him from the studies 
to which he was devoted, it confirmed him in his 
unwillingness to publish their results. 

The next few years of Newton's life were not 
marked by any remarkable events. They were 
passed almost entirely at Cambridge, in the prose- 
cution of the reseai'ches in which he was engaged. 
The most important incident was the communica- 
tion to Oldenburgh, and, through him, to Leibnitz, 
that he possessed a method of determining maxima 
and minima, of drawing tangents, and performing 
other difficult mathematical operations. This was 
the method of fluxions, but he did not announce its 
name or its processes. Leibnitz, in return, explained 
to him the principles and processes of the Differen- 
tial Calculus. This correspondence took place in 
the years 1676 and 1677: but the method of 
fluxions had been communicated to Barrow and 
Collins as early as 1699, in a tract first printed in 
1711, under the title ' Analysis per equationes numero 
terminorum infinitas.' Newton had indeed in- 
tended to publish his discovery as an introduction 
to an edition of Kinckhuysen's Algebra, which he 
undertook to prepare in 1672 ; but the fear of con- 
troversy prevented him, and the method of fluxions 
was not publicly announced till the appearance of 


the Principia in 1687. The edition of Kinckhuysen's 
treatise did not appear; but the same year, 1672, 
was marked by Newton's editing the Geography of 

In 1679 Newton's attention was again called to 
the theorv of gravitation, and by a fuller investi- 
gation of the conditions of elliptical motion, he 
was confirmed in the opinion that the phenomena 
of the planets were referrible to an attractive force 
in the sun, of which the intensity varied in the in- 
verse proportion of the square of the distance. The 
difficulty about the amount of the moon's motion 
remained, but it was shortly to be removed. In 
] 679 Picard effected a new measurement of a degree 
of the earth's surface, and Newton heard of the 
result at a meeting of the Royal Society in June, 
1682. He immediately returned home to repeat 
his former calculation with these new data. Every 
step of the process made it more probable that the 
discrepance which had so long perplexed him would 
Avholly disappear : and so great was his excitement 
at the prospect of entire success that he was unable 
to proceed \vith the calculation, and intrusted its 
completion to a friend. The triumph was perfect, 
and he foimd the theory of his youth sufficient to 
explain all the great phenomena of nature. 

From this time Newton devoted unremitting at- 
tention to the development of his system, and a 
pei'iod of nearly two years was entirely absorbed by 
it. In 1684 the outline of the mighty work was 
finished ; yet it is likely that it would still have re- 
mained unknown, had not Halley, who was himself 
on the track of some part of the discovery, gone 
to Cambridge in August of that year to consult 
Newton about some difficulties be had met with. 
Newton communicated to him a treatise De Motu 
Corponim, which afterwards, with some additions, 


formed the first two books of the Principia. Even 
then Halley found it difficult to persuade him to 
communicate the treatise to the Royal Society, but 
he finally did so in April, 1686, with a desire that 
it should not immediately be published, as there 
were yet many things to complete. Hooke, whose 
imwearied ingenuity had guessed at the true law of 
gravity, immediately claimed to himself the honour 
of the discovery ; how unjustly it is needless to say, 
for the merit consisted not in the conjecture but the 
demonstration. Newton was inclined in conse- 
quence to prevent the publication of the work, or at 
least of the third part, De Mundi Systemate, in 
which the mathematical conclusions of the former 
books were applied to the system of the universe. 
Happily his reluctance was overcome, and the 
whole work was published in May, 1687. Its 
doctrines were too novel and surprising to meet 
with immediate assent; but the illustrious author 
at once received the tribute of admiration for the 
boldness which had formed, and the skill which had 
developed his theory, and he lived to see it become 
the common philosophical creed of all nations. 

We next find Ne\vton acting in a very different 
character. James II. had insulted the University 
of Cambridge by a requisition to admit a Benedictine 
monk to the degree of Master of Arts without taking 
the oaths enjoined by the constitution of the Uni- 
versity, The mandate was disobeyed ; and the 
Vice-Chancellor was summoned before the Ecclesi- 
astical Commission to answer for the contempt. 
Nine delegates, of whom Newton was one, were ap- 
pointed by the University to defend their pro- 
ceedings ; and their exertions were successful. He 
was soon after elected to the Convention Parliament 
as member for the University of Cambridge. That 
parliament was dissolved in February, 1690, and 

VOL. III. 6 


Newton, who was not a candidate for a seat in the 
one which succeeded it, returned to Cambridge, where 
he continued to reside for some years, notwithstand- 
ing the efforts of Locke, and some other distin- 
guished persons with whom he had become ac- 
quainted in London, to fix him permanently in the 

During this time he continued to be occupied 
with philosophical research, and with scientific and 
literary correspondence. Chemical investigations 
appear to have engaged much of his time ; but the 
principal results of his studies were lost to the world 
by a fire in his chambers about the year 1692. The 
consequences of this accident have been very dif- 
ferently related. According to one version, a favour- 
ite dog, called Diamond, caused the mischief, and 
the story has been often told, that Newton was only 
provoked, by the loss of the labour of years, to the 
exclamation, " Oh, Diamond ! Diamond I thou little 
knowest the mischief thou hast done." Another, 
and probably a better authenticated, account, repre- 
sents the disappointment as preying deeply on his 
spirits for at least a month from the occurrence. 

We have more means of tracing Newton's other 
pursuits about this time. History, chronology, and 
divinity were his favourite relaxations fi"om science, 
and his reputation stood high as a proficient in 
these studies. In 1690 he communicated to Locke 
his ' Historical account of two notable corruptions 
of the Scriptures,' which was first published long 
after his death. About the same time he was en- 
gaged in those researches which were afterwards 
embodied in his Obsei-vations on the Prophecies : 
and in December, 1692, he was in correspondence 
with Bentley on the application of his own system 
to the support of natural theology. 

During the latter part of 1692 and the beginning 


of 1693 Ne\\'ton's health was considerably impaired, 
and he laboured in the summer under some epidemic 
disorder. It is not likely that the precise character 
or amount of his indisposition will ever be dis- 
covered ; but it seems, though the opinion has been 
much controverted, that for a short time it affected 
his understanding, and that in September, 1693, he 
was not in the full possession of his mental faculties. 
The disease was soon removed, and there is no rea- 
son to suppose that it ever recurred. But the course 
of his life was changed ; and from this time forward 
he devoted himself chiefly to the completion of his 
former works, and abstained from any new career of 
continued research. 

His time indeed was less at his own disposal than 
it had been. In 1696, Mr. Montague, the Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer, an early friend of Newton, 
appointed him to the Wardenship of the Mint, and 
in 1699 he was raised to the office of Master. He 
removed to London, and was much occupied, es- 
pecially during the new coinage in 1696 and 1697, 
with the duties of his office. Still he found time to 
superintend the editions of his earlier works, which 
successively appeared with very material additions 
and improvements. The great work on Optics ap- 
peared for the first time in a complete form in 1704, 
after the death of Hooke had freed Newton from 
the fear of new controversies. It was accompanied 
by some of his earlier mathematical treatises ; and 
contained also, in addition to the principal subject 
of the work, suggestions on a variety of subjects of 
the highest philosophical interest, embodied in the 
shape of queries. Among these is to be found the 
first suggestion of the polarity of light ; and we may 
mention at the same time, although they occur in a 
different part of the work, the -remarkable con- 
jectures, since verified, of the combustible nature of 


100 NEWTON. 

the diamond and the existence of an inflammable 
principle in water. The second edition of the Prin- 
cipia appeared under the care of Cotes in 1713, after 
having been the subject of correspondence between 
Newton and his editor for nearly four years. Dr. 
Pemberton published a third edition in 1725, and he 
frequently communicated about the work with New- 
ton who was then eighty-two years old. 

These were the chief scientific employments of 
Ne\Ai;on's latter life ; and it is not necessary to par- 
ticularise all its minor details. In 1712 he made 
some improvements in his Arithmetica Universalis, 
a work containing his algebraical discoveries, of 
whicli Whiston had surreptitiously published an 
edition in 1707. It is also worthy of remark that 
at the beginning of the year 1697, John Bernouilli 
addressed two problems as a challenge to the ma- 
thematicians of Europe, and that Leibnitz in 1716 
made a similar appeal to the English analysts ; and 
that Newton in each case undertook and succeeded 
in the investigation. 

This enumeration of Newton's philosophical em- 
ployments has far outrun the order of time. After 
his return to London, compliments and honours 
flowed in rapidly upon him. in 1699 he was elected 
one of the first foreign associates of the Academic 
des Sciences at Paris; and in 1701 he was a second 
time returned to Parliament by the University of 
Cambridge. He did not, however, long retain his 
seat. At the election in 1705 he was at the bottom 
of the poll, and he does not appear again to have 
been a candidate. In 1703 he was chosen President 
of the Royal Society, and held that office till his 
death. In 1705 he was knighted by Queen Anne 
upon her visit to Cambridge. 

Newton's life in London was one of much dignity 
and comfort. He was courted by the distinguished 

NEWTON. 101 

of all ranks, and particularly by the Princess of 
Wales, who derived much pleasure from her inter- 
course both with him and Leibnitz. His domestic 
establishment was liberal, and was superintended 
during great part of his time by his niece, Mrs. 
Barton, a woman of much beauty and talent, who 
married Mr. Conduitt, his assistant and successor 
at the Mint. Newton's liberality was almost bound- 
less, yet he died rich. 

The only material drawback to Newton's enjoyment 
during this portion of his life seems to have arisen 
from controversies as to the history and originality 
of his discoveries ; a molestation to which his slow- 
ness to publish them very naturally exposed him. 
There was a long and angry dispute with Leibnitz 
about the priority of fluxions or the differential 
calculus ; and, after the fashion of most disputes, it 
diverged widely from the original ground, and it 
became necessary for Newton to vindicate the re- 
ligious and metaphysical tendencies of his greatest 
works. His success was complete on all points. 
Leibnitz does not appear to have been acquainted 
with the method of fluxions at the time of his own 
discovery, but there is now no doubt of Ne^vton's 
having preceded him by some years ; and the at- 
tacks made on the tendency of Newton's discoveries 
have long been remembered only as disgracing their 
author. But such discussions had always been dis- 
tasteful to Newton, and this controversy, which was 
conducted with great rancour by his opponents and 
some of his supporters, embittered his later years. 

The same fate awaited him in another instance. 
His system of Chronology had been long conceived, 
but he had not communicated it to any one until he 
explained it to the Princess of Wales. At her de- 
sire, he afterwards, in 1718, drew up a short abstract 
of it for her use, and sent it to her on condition that 


102 NEWTON. 

no one else should see it. She afterwards requested 
that the Abbe.Conti might have a copy of it, and 
Newton complied, but still on the terms that it 
should not be farther divulged. Conti, however, 
showed the manuscript at Paris to Freret, who, 
without the author's permission, translated and 
published it with observations in opposition to its 
doctrines. Newton dreAV up a reply which was 
printed in the Philosophical Transactions for 1725, 
and this was the signal for a new attack by Souciet. 
Newton was then roused to his last great exertion, 
that of fully digesting his system, which as yet ex- 
isted only in confused papers, and preparing it for 
the press. He did not live to complete his task, but 
the work was left in a state of great forwardness, 
and was published in 1728 by Mr. Conduitt. Its 
value is well known. As a refutation of the systems 
of chronology then received, it is almost demon- 
strative; and the affirmative conclusions, if not 
always minutely correct, or even generally satis- 
factory, are yet among the most valuable con- 
tributions which science has made to history. 

With the exception of the attack of 1693, New- 
ton's health had usually been very good. But he 
suffered much from stone during the last few years 
of his life. His mental faculties remained in general 
unaffected, but his memory was much impaired. 
From the year 1725 he lived at Kensington, but 
w^as still fond of going occasionally to London, and 
visited it on February 28th, 1727, to preside at a 
"meeting of the Royal Society. The fatigue appears 
to haA^e been too great ; for the disease attacked him 
violently on the 4th of March, and he lingered till 
the 20th, when he died. His sufferings were severe, 
but his temper was never soured, nor the benevolence 
of his nature obscured. Indeed his moral was not 
less admirable than his intellectual character, and it 


NEWTON. 103 

was guided and supported by that religion, which he 
had studied not from speculative curiosity, but with 
the serious application of a mind habitually occupied 
with its duties, and earnestly desirous of its advance- 

Newton died without a will, and his property de- 
scended to Mrs. Conduitt and his other relations in 
the same degree. He was buried with great pomp 
in Westminster Abbey, where there is a monument 
to his memory, erected by his relations. His Chro- 
nology appeared, as has been already mentioned, 
almost immediately after his death ; and the Lec- 
tiones Opticae, the substance of his lectures at Cam- 
bridge in the years 1669, 1670, and 1671, were 
published from his manuscripts in 1729. In 1733, 
Mr. Benjamin Smith, one of the descendants of his 
mother's second marriage, published the Observa- 
tions on the Prophecies. These, in addition to the 
works already mentioned, are Newton's principal 
writings ; there are, however, several smaller tracts, 
some of which appeared during his lifetime, and 
some after his death, which it is not necessary here 
to specify. They would have conferred much ho- 
nour on most philosophers ; — they are hardly re- 
membered in reckoning up Newton's titles to fame. 

Many portraits of Newton are in existerxce. The 
Royal Society possesses two ; and Lord Egremont 
is the owner of one, which is engraved as the frontis- 
piece to Dr. Brewster's Life of Newton. Trinity 
College, Cambridge, abounds in memorials of its 
greatest ornament. Almost every room dedicated to 
public pui-poses possesses a picture of him, and the 
chapel is adorned by Roubiliac's noble statue. The 
library also has a bust by the same artist, of perhaps 
even superior excellence. As works of art these are 
far superior to any of the paintings extant : but 
they have not the claim to authenticitv possessed by 




the contemporary portraits. It is remarkable, that 
until the recent publication of Dr. Brewster's life, 
no one had thought it worth while to devote an en- 
tire work to the history of so remarkable a man as 
Newton. There is, however, an elaborate memoir 
of him, \vritten by M. Biot, in the Biographie Uni- 
verselle, whicli has been republished in the Library 
of Useful Knowledge. 

[Roubiliac's Statue from the Chapel of Trinity College.! 


Daniel, the son of James Foe, citizen and butcher, 
was born in London, in the parish of Cripplegate, 
in or about the year 1663 : at what time, or on 
what account he prefixed the syllable De to his pa- 
ternal name, does not clearly appear. He was a 
Dissenter himself, and appears to have been of a 
dissenting family. Early imbued with a dread of 
Papal ascendancy, he took up arms to support the 
Duke of Monmouth's insurrection, and was fortunate 
in escaping not only the sword, but the legal con- 
sequences of that rash adventure. In 1685 he went 
into business as a hosier, in Freeman's Yard, Corn- 
hill. He was not successful, probably because his 
attention was engrossed by affairs foreign to his 
trade ; for he not only mingled in the political and 
religious dissensions of that stormy time, but was 
too much occupied, according to his biographer Mr. 

10§ DEFOE. 

Chalmers, by engagements, which became neither 
the conscientious dissenter, nor the steady man of 
business. " With the usual imprudence of superior 
genius, he was carried by his vivacity into companies 
who were gratified by his wit, and he spent those 
hours in the idle hilarity of the tavern, which he 
ought to have employed in the calculations of the 
counting-house ; and being obliged to abscond from 
his creditors in 1692, he attributed those misfortunes 
to the war, which were doubtless owing to his own 
misconduct. He afterwards carried on the brick 
and pantile works near Tilbury Fort, though pro- 
bably with no success. He was in after-times wittily 
reproached, ' that he did not, like the Egyptians, re- 
quire bricks without straw, but, like the Jews, re- 
quired bricks without paying his labourers.' He 
was born for other enterprises, which, if they did not 
gain him wealth, have conferred a renown, that will 
descend the current of time with the language 
wherein his works are written." His misfortunes 
however, even if accompanied by some imprudence, 
did not alienate his friends. " I was invited," he 
says in his Appeal to Honour and Justice, " by some 
merchants with whom I had corresponded abroad, 
and some also at home, to settle at Cadiz, and that 
with offers of very good commissions; but Pro- 
vidence, which had other work for me to do, placed 
a secret aversion in my mind. Some time after, I 
was, without the least application of mine, and being 
then seventy miles from London, sent for to be Ac- 
comptant to the Commissioners of the Glass Duty ; 
in which service I continued to the determination of 
their commission." 

Having lost this occupation, Defoe's active mind 
expanded itself in a variety of schemes. He wrote, 
he tells us, many sheets about the coin ; he proposed 
a law for registering seamen ; he projected county 

DKFOE. 107 

banks ; factories for goods ; a commission of inquiry 
into the estates of bankrupts ; a pension-office for 
the relief of the poor ; an academy " to encourage 
polite learning, and to polish and refine the English 
tongue;" and an academy for the education of 
women, with a view to the improvement of society, 
by training them to a more exemplary discharge of 
their social duties. Notices of various of these 
schemes, and of the use or abuse of a speculative 
spirit in a mercantile country, will be found in his 
Essay on Projects, published in January, 1697. In 
1701 he produced a satire in verse, called The True- 
born Englishman, which arose out of a personal and 
virulent attack by one Tutchen, on William III., 
whose faults VA'ere finally summed up in the epithet 
" foreigner." " This," Defoe says, " filled me with 
a kind of rage against the book, and gave birth to a 
trifle, which I never could hope should have met 
with such general acceptation as it did — I mean, 
The True-born Englishman. How this poem was 
the occasion of my being known to his Majesty ; 
how I afterwards was received by him ; how em- 
ployed ; and how, above all my capacity of de- 
serving, rewarded, is no part of the present case :" 
and history does not supply us with the particulars 
here left unnoticed. But whatever were Defoe's 
services or their rewards, he always expressed his 
gratitude and aflfection for King William's memory 
in ardent terms. In the same year he published two 
able tracts in support of the principles of the Revo- 
lution, entitled, one, The Original Power of the 
Collective Body of the People of England Examined 
and Asserted; the other. The Freeholder's Plea 
against the Stock-jobbing Elections of Parliament- 
men. The following pithy sentence m.ay give some 
notion of the general tenor of the latter : — " It is 
very rational to suppose that those who buy will sell. 


or what seems more rational, they who have boujjht, 
must sell.'' In these pieces the ultimate resort of 
all power in the people, and the responsibility of the 
parliament to the people, inasmuch, to use liis own 
words elsewhere, " as the person sent is less than the 
sender," are forcibly explained and asserted. The 
same principles were developed more strongly in 
what is commonly called The Legion Letter, a re- 
monstrance against certain exertions of the privilege 
of parliament, by which the subject's right of peti- 
tioning was thought to be curtailed. This remark- 
able paper, which, though never clearly avowed, is 
believed to have been written by Defoe, and pre- 
sented by him, dressed in women's clothes, to the 
Speaker, was entitled, A Memorial from the Gen- 
tlemen, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of the Counties 

of , in behalf of themselves, and many thousands 

of the good people of England, to the Knights, 
Citizens and Burgesses in Parliament assembled; 
and ends in the following words : " For Englishmen 
are no more to be slaves to Parliaments than to 

" Our name is Leoion, 
"And we are Many. 

" If you require to have this Memorial signed with 
our names, it shall be done, on your first orders, and 
formally presented." 

Of this attempt to intimidate the House no open 
notice was taken, nor does it appear to have been 
known at the time who was the author. But any 
ill-will which the Tories might have against Defoe, 
if suspected, was gratified by the consequences of a 
pamphlet which he published in 1702, entitled, The 
Sliortest AVay with the Dissenters, or Proposals for 
the Establishment of the Church. In this ironical 
j)erformance, which ostensibly recommends the total 
extirpation of Dissenters from England, he intended 

DEPOB. 109 

to satirize the blind prejudices and headstrong zeal 
of the high Tory faction : but he had the misfortune 
to raise up enemies on every side. Some of the 
Dissenters took it literally, and raised an outcry 
against him as a persecutor : the Tories understood 
it better, and had influence enough to get a prose- 
cution commenced against him, and a reward offered 
for his apprehension, by the government. The 
House of Commons voted the book a libel, and 
ordered it to be burnt by the hangman. The 
printer and the publisher of it were taken into 
custody, upon which Defoe, who had secreted him- 
self, came forward, "to throw himself upon the 
favour of Government, rather than that others 
should be ruined for his mistakes." He was tried 
in July, 1703, found guilty of composing and pub- 
lishing a seditious libel, and, by a very oppressive 
sentence, was condemned to be imprisoned, to stand 
in the pillory, to pay a fine of 200 marks, and to 
find security for his good behaviour during seven 
years. It is in allusion to this that Pope, who 
ought to have better appreciated such a man, has 
made an unworthy attack upon Defoe in the Dunciad, 

Earleis on high stood unabash'd Defoe. 

He had no reason to be, and was not, abashed ; and 
he composed a Hymn to the Pillory, and an Elegy 
on the Author of a True-born Englishman, esteem- 
ing himself defunct as an author, when he was 
obliged to find sureties for good behaviour. These, 
like all his works, contain the energetic expression 
of an independent spirit : to poetical merit they have 
no claim. 

Early in 1704, while he was still in prison, Defoe 
commenced a periodical paper, entitled The Review, 
which, in addition to the usual topics of news, con- 
tained a report of the proceedings of a " Scandal 
Club, which discusses questions in divinity, morals, 




war, trade, language, poetry, love, marriage, drunk- 
enness, and gaming. Thus it is easy to see that the 
Review pointed out the way to the Tatlers, Spec- 
tators, and Guardians, which may be allowed, how- 
ever, to have treated these interesting topics with 
more delicacy of language, more terseness of style, 
and greater depth of learning : yet has Defoe many 
passages, both of prose and poetry, which for refine- 
ment of wit, neatness of expression, and efficacy of 
moral, would do honour either to Steele or Addison." 
(Chalmers.) This periodical was published three 
times a-week, until May, 1713, when it was brought 
to a close. Defoe continued in Newgate until 
August, 1704, when Harley procured his release, 
and recommended him to Queen Anne, who seems 
to have thought that he had been hardly used, and 
contributed generously towards the relief of his 
family, reduced to poverty by the misfortunes of its 
head. She employed him, he says, in " several 
honourable, though secret services ;" and he speaks, 
in his Appeal to Honour and Justice, of a " special 
service, in which I ran as much risque of my life as 
a grenadier upon the counterscarp." These seem 
to have been rewarded by a pension, or by some 
subordinate office ; but the exact nature of thi 
recompense is not kno\\'n. In October, 1706, he 
was despatched to Scotland, to assist in promoting 
the union between the two kingdoms. In addition 
to his talents and readiness as an author, he pos- 
sessed great practical knowledge of commerce and 
matters connected with the revenue : he frequently 
attended the committees of the Scottish parliament, 
and made a variety of calculations, relative to trade 
and taxes, for their use ; and he was ver\' service- 
able, as a popular writer, in replying to the various 
attacks which were made upon that hated measure. 
His intimate acquaintance Mith the transactions of 

DEFOE. ill 

this period qualified him well for a work, which now 
probably is known to few readers, but which contains 
a great body of minute information concerning the 
condition and the history of Scotland at that period, 
— The History of the Union between England and 
Scotland : of which Mr. Chalmers says, " The 
minuteness with which he describes what he saw 
and heard upon that turbulent stage, where he acted 
a conspicuous part, is extremely interesting to us, 
who wish to know what actually passed, however 
this circumstantiality may have disgusted contem- 
poraneous readers. History is chiefly valuable, as 
it transmits a faithful copy of the manners and sen- 
timents of every age. This narrative of Defoe is a 
drama, in which he introduces the highest peers and 
the lowest peasants speaking and acting, according 
as they were each actuated by their characteristic 
passions ; and while the man of taste is amused by 
his manner, the man of business may draw instruc- 
tion from the documents which are appended to the 
end and interspersed in every page. This publi- 
cation had alone preserved his name, had his Crusoe 
pleased us less." Chalmers naturally makes the 
most of its merits, for his Life of Defoe was origin- 
ally prefixed to a reprint of it in 1786: but the 
author would have been little known if his popularity 
had depended on this work only. 

After his return from Scotland, Defoe resided for 
some time at Newington. He incurred great obloquy, 
he says, for trying to makte the best of the peace of 
Utrecht after it was concluded, and bore infinite 
reproaches as having been hired and bribed to de- 
fend a bad peace, upon the supposition that he was 
the author of pamphlets in which he had no share. 
To escape from this persecution he went to Halifax, 
in Yorkshire, where he had ample opportunity to 
observe the confidence of the Jacobite party, and 




the success with which they laboured to make con- 
verts among the lower ranks. To counteract these 
plottings, he wrote A Seasonable Caution, Reasons 
against the Succession of the House of Hanover, 
and some other pamphlets with similar titles ; in- 
tending, he says, by means of their apparent drift, to 
put them into the hands of persons whom the 
Jacobites had deluded. But Defoe was unfortunate 
as an ironical writer : perhaps the same qualities 
which gave his fictions such an air of truth tended 
to give his irony too much the appearance of earnest. 
On this, as on a former occasion, some persons 
were foolish or malicious enough to misconstrue his 
meaning, and to accuse him of writing seditious 
libels in favour of the Pretender. On this frivolous 
charge an information was filed against him in the 
spring of 1713, on which he was taken into custody, 
and obliged to find bail to a large amount ; and the 
consequences might have been still more serious, but 
for a second intervention of Harley, who procured 
a free pardon for him in the following November. 
Speaking of these very publications in his Appeal, 
he protests that " if the Elector of Hanover had 
given me a thousand pounds to have written for the 
interests of his succession, and to expose and render 
the interest of the Pretender odious and ridiculous, 
I could have done nothing more effectual to these 
purposes than these books were." 

Well intended and valuable as his labours might 
be, his only recompense for them was a bare im- 
munity from presecution. After the accession of 
George I. he was discountenanced and neglected. 
In 1715 he wrote An Appeal to Honour and 
Justice, comprising a defence of his character, and 
a general account of his life, principles, and conduct. 
He was struck by apoplexy before he had quite com- 
pleted this work, but recovered the full possession of 

. DKFOE. 113 

his faculties, and lived until April 26, 1731. After 
this attack, whether from the wish to avoid excite- 
ment and anxiety, or from the little advantage 
which his political writings had produced to him, 
he almost ceased to handle controversial subjects, 
and devoted himself with unwearying industry to 
works of a more popular and lucrative kind. Upon 
the profits of his pen he seems to have depended for 
his livelihood; and to the necessity of courting 
popular favour it may probably be attributed that 
the subjects of some of his works are vulgar, and 
the style coarse : but even out of vicious and re- 
volting subjects he had the art of extracting a whole- 
some moral. The following are the names and 
dates of the principal productions of his declining 
years; and it is very remarkable, considering the 
circumstances in which they were composed, that 
they should comprise all those fictions to which he 
owes his imperishable name in British literature : — 
Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1719. 
Life, Adventures, and Piracies of the Famous Cap- 
tain Singleton, 1720. Fortunes and Misfortunes of 
the Famous Moll Flanders, 1721. Religious Court- 
ship; Journal of the Plague Year, 1722. Life of 
Colonel Jack, 1723. Tour through the whole 
Island of Great Britain, 1724-7. New Voyage 
round the World, 1725. Political History of the 
Devil, 1726. Complete English Tradesman, 1727. 
Plan of English Commerce, 1728, Memoirs of a 
Cavalier — date uncertain. But, notwithstanding the 
unceasing industry which enabled him to produce 
these, and many other works, in the time specified, 
he appears to have died insolvent, for a creditor took 
out letters of administration on his effects. 

A catalogue of the numerous works known, or 
confidently believed by the compiler to be Defoe's, 
and of those also which are attributed to him on 

114 DEFOE. 

more doubtful evidence, is given by Mr. Chalmers 
at the end of that edition of his Life which is sub- 
joined to Stockdale's edition of Robinson Crusoe, 
in 2 vols. 8vo., 1790 ; hardly one in four of them 
has been named in this short account. Defoe was 
a very rapid, as well as a laborious composer : it is 
said that he once wrote two shilling pamphlets 
in a single day. His controversial works however 
have long lost their interest : and his principal histo- 
rical work, that on the Union, is too prolix and 
minute to find general acceptation in our days. 
In his acquaintance with commerce, and insight 
into the principles by which it is governed, he is 
entitled to rank with the most skilful of his con- 
temporaries ; but the progress of economical science 
has of course deprived his commercial writings of 
most of their value, except as records of the past. 
Of his numerous works of fiction, we may notice the 
History of the Plague of London in 1665, Memoirs 
of a Cavalier, and Robinson Crusoe, as the best 
known and the most deserving. The first, which 
professes to be the journal of a saddler resident in 
Whitechapel during the a\A'ful visitation which he 
describes, is said to have been received as genuine 
even by Dr. Mead, as no doubt it has been by very 
many of those who are unacquainted with its real 
history. There is a homely pathos, a minute and 
scrupulous adherence to verisimilitude in it, which 
almost irresistibly persuades the reader that none 
but an eye witness could have written such an ac- 
count. The Memoirs of a Cavalier possess the 
same air of truth. They relate the campaigns of a 
young Englishman of good family, first in Germany 
under Gustavus Adolphus, afterwards on the royal 
side in our civil wars ; and depict with great vivid- 
ness and fidelity the principal events of those in- 
teresting and stirring times. But, popular as these 

DEFOE. 115 

works have been and deserve to be, they sink into 
obscurity when compared with the universal accepta- 
tion of Robinson Crusoe ; the only thing, accord- 
ing to Dr. Johnson, written by mere man, that was 
ever wished longer by its readers, except Don 
Quixote and the Pilgrim's Progress. And Bunyan 
and Defoe had some points in common. Both came 
of the people, and both, without the advantages or 
trammels of a learned education, wrote for and to 
the people ; they slighted no source of pathos or 
^eloquence as being too humble, and cared little for 
homeliness of phrase, if it expressed their meaning 
clearly and strongly. It is needless to give any 
account of a book which in one shape or other — for 
in the numerous reprints it has often been curtailed 
and mutilated — must be familiar to every reader. 
The story is well known to be identical with that 
of Alexander Selkirk, who, after a solitary abode 
of four years on the island of Juan Fernandez, re- 
turned to England in 1709. Defoe has been charged 
with surreptitiously obtaining and making an unfair 
use of this man's papers ; but there seems to be no 
ground whatever for the accusation. Selkirk's story 
had been made public in several forms seven years 
at least before Robinson Crusoe was written, and it 
was free to Defoe or to any man to take it as the 
ground upon which to build a tale. And far from 
Selkirk's papers having been traced into Defoe's 
hands, it does not even appear that these pretended 
papers ever were in existence : indeed Selkirk seems, 
from the published accounts of him, to have been so 
much below the fictitious Crusoe in the extent of 
his resources, and the fertility of his ingenuity (and 
we say this with no desire to undervalue his active 
spirit and contented temper), that it is hardly pos- 
sible that he should have furnished more than the 



Robinson Crusoe buUding bis Boat, . From a de«ign by Stothaid. R.A. 

DEFOE. 117 

fii-st hint, which Defoe has expanded into so in- 
structive, fascinating, and varied a story. 

The folloAAang lively criticism of this remark- 
able work is extracted from Dunlop's History of 
Fiction : — 

" Defoe and Swift, though differing very widely 
in education, opinions, and character, have at the 
same time some strong points of resemblance. 
Both are remarkable for the unaffected simplicity 
of their narratives — both intermingle so many 
minute circumstances, and state so particularly 
names of persons, and dates, and places, that the 
reader is involuntarily surprised into a persuasion of 
their truth. It seems impossible that what is so 
artlessly told should be a fiction, especially as the 
narrators begin the account of their voyages with 
such references to persons living, or whom they 
assert to be alive, and whose place of residence 
is so accurately mentioned, that one is led to believe 
a relation must be genuine, which could, if false, 
have been so easily convicted of falsehood. The in- 
cidents too are so very circumstantial, that we think 
it impossible they could have been mentioned except 
they had been real.". . . . Speaking of the moral 
of Robinson Crusoe, he continues, " We are delighted 
with the spectacle of difficulty overcome, and with 
the power of human ingenuity and contrivance to 
provide not only accommodation but comfort, in the 
most unfaA'ourable circumstances. Never did human 
being excite more sympathy in his fate than this 
shipwrecked mariner : we enter into all his doubts 
and difficulties, and every rusty nail which he acquires 
fills us with satisfaction. We thus learn to appreciate 
our own comforts, and we acquire, at the same time, 
a habit of activity ; but above all we attain a trust 
?ind devout confidence in Divine mercy and goodness, 


118 DEFOE. 

The author, also, by placing his hero in an unin- 
habited island in the "Western Ocean, had an op- 
portuuity of introducing scenes which, with the 
merit of truth, have all the wildness and horror of 
the most incredible fiction. Tfiat foot in the sand — 
those Indians who land on the solitary shore to de- 
vour their captives — fill us with alarm and terror ; 
and, after being relieved from the fear of Crusoe 
perishing by famine, we are agitated by new appre- 
hensions for his safety. The deliverance of Friday, 
and the whole character of that young Indian, are 
painted in the most beautiful manner ; and, in short, 
of all the works of fiction that have ever been com- 
posed, Robinson Crusoe is perhaps the most in- 
teresting and attractive." 


Richard Bentley was the son, not of a low me- 
chanic, as the earlier narratives of his life assert, 
but of a respectable yeoman, possessed ] of a small 
estate. That fact has been established by his latest 
and most accurate, as well as most copious bio- 
grapher, Dr. Monk, now Bishop of Gloucester. 
Bentley was born in Yorkshire, January 27, 1661-2, 
at Oulton, near Wakefield ; and educated at Wake- 
field school, and St. John's College, Cambridge, 
where he pursued his studies with unwearied in- 
dustry. No fellowship to which he was eligible 
having fallen vacant, he was appointed Master of 
Spalding school, in 1682; over which he had 
presided only one year, when his critical learning 
recommended him to Dr. Stillingfleet, then Dean of 
St. Paul's, as a private tutor for his son. In 1689 
he attended his pupil to Wadham College in Oxford, 
where he was incorporated Master of Arts on the 


4th of July in that year, having previously taken 
that degree in his own university. Soon after the 
promotion of Stillingfleet to the see of Worcester, 
Bentley was made domestic chaplain to that learned 
prelate, with whom he continued on the terms of 
confidential intimacy incident to that connexion, 
till his Lordship's death. Dr. William Lloyd, at 
that time Bishop of Lichfield, was equally alive 
to the uncommon merit of this rising scholar ; and 
his two patrons concurrently recommended him as 
a fit person to open the lectures founded by the 
celebrated Robert Boyle, in defence of natural and 
revealed religion. Bentley had before this time em- 
barked largely in literary pursuits. Among these we 
can only stop to mention his criticisms on the histo- 
riographer Malelas, contained in a letter appended 
to Dr. Mill's edition of that author, which stamped 
his reputation as a first-rate scholar, especially 
among the learned men of the Continent. 

The delivery of the first course of Boyle's Lec- 
tures, in 1692, gave Bentley an admirable opportu- 
nity of establishing his reputation as a divine; 
and he taxed his abilities to the utmost to ensure 
success. Sir Isaac Newton's Principia had not 
been published more than six years : the sublime 
discoveries of the author were little known, and less 
understood, from the general prejudice against any 
new theory, and the difficulty of comprehending the 
deep reasonings on which this one rested. Bentley 
determined to spare no pains in laying open this 
new philosophy of the solar system in a popular 
form, and in displaying to the best advantage the 
cogent arguments in behalf of the existence of a 
Deity, furnished by that masterly work. That 
nothing might be wanting to his design, he applied 
to the author, and received from him the solution 
pf some difficulties. This gave rise to a curious au4 


important correspondence; and there Is a manu- 
script in Newton's own hand preserved among 
Bentley's papers, containing directions respecting 
the books to be read as a preparation for the perusal 
of his Principia. Newton's four letters on this sub- 
ject are preserved in Trinity College Library, and 
have been given to the public in the form of a 
pamphlet. The lecturer did not neglect, in ad- 
dition to the popular illustration of the Principia, to 
corroborate his argument by considerations drawn 
from Locke's doctrine, that the notion of a Deity 
is not innate. The sermons were received with 
loud and universal applause, and the highest opinion 
of the preaclier's abilities was entertained by the 
learned world. Bentley soon reaped the fruits of 
his high reputation, being appointed to a stall at 
Worcester in October, 1692, and made Keeper of 
the King's Library in the following year. In 1694 
he was again appointed to preach Boyle's lecture. 
His subject was a defence of Christianity against 
the objections of infidels. These sermons have never 
been published ; nor have Dr. Monk's researches 
enabled him to ascertain where they are now de- 

Bentley was scarcely settled in his office of libra- 
rian, when he became involved in a quarrel with 
the Hon. Charles Boyle, brother to the Earl of 
Ossory, who was then in the course of his education 
at Christ Church in Oxford, and had carried 
thither a more than ordinary share of classical 
knowledge, and a decided taste for literary pursuits. 
Mr. Boyle had been selected by his college to edit 
a new edition of the Epistles of Phalaris ; and for 
that purpose, not by direct application, but through 
the medium of a blundering and ill-mannered book- 
seller, he had procured the use of a manuscript copy 
of the Epistles from the Library at St. James's, 


The responsibility attendant on the custody of manu- 
scripts, and perhaps some disgust at the channel 
through which the loan was negotiated, occasioned 
the librarian to demand restitution before the col- 
lation was finished. A notion was entertained at 
Christ Church that an affront was intended both 
to the Epistles, which Bentley had already pro- 
nounced to be a clumsy forgery of later times, and 
to the advocates of their genuineness. Tory politics 
had probably some share in exasperating a quarrel 
with a scholar in the opposite interest. Be this as 
it may, the preface to Phalaris contained an offensive 
sentence, which the editor would not, or perhaps 
could not cancel, as the copies seem to have been 
delivered before the real state of the case was ex- 
plained ; and this gave rise to the once celebrated 
controversy between Boyle and Bentley. It pro- 
duced a number of pieces written with learning, wit, 
and spirit, on both sides ; but Bentley fought single- 
handed, while the tracts on the side of Boyle were 
clubbed by the wits of Christ Church ; for the 
reputed author was attending his parliamentary 
duty in Ireland, while those enlisted under his colours 
were sustaining his cause in the English republic of 
letters. Of the numerous attacks on Bentley pub- 
lished at this period. Swift's Battle of the Books is 
the only one which continues to be known by the 
merit of the \mting. The controversy was pro- 
longed to the year 1699, when Bentley's enlarged 
dissertation upon Phalaris appeared, and obtained 
so complete a victory over his opponents, as to con- 
stitute an epoch not only in the ^vriter's life, but in 
the history of literature. It is avowedly contro- 
vei*sial ; but it contains a matchless treasure of know- 
ledge, in history, chronology, antiquities, philosophy, 
and criticism. The preface contains his defence 
against the charges made on his personal character. 


his vindication of which is satisfactory and tri- 
umphant. So strong, however, are the prejudices 
of party and fashion, that many persons looked upon 
the controversy as a field for a grand tournament of 
wit and learning, exhibiting the prowess of the com- 
batants without deciding the cause in dispute ; but 
all those whose judgment on such questions could 
be of any value held the triumph of Dr. Bentley to 
be complete, both as to the sterling merits of the case, 
and his able management of its discussion. It was 
not long before the impression created in his favour 
became manifest ; for, in the course of the next 
year, 1700, Bentley was appointed by the crown to 
the Mastership of Trinity College, Cambridge. On 
that high advancement he resigned his stall at 
Worcester. He was afterwards collated to the Arch- 
deaconry of Ely, in 1701, which, besides conferring 
rank in the church, was endowed with two livings ; 
and he was appointed Chaplain both to King Wil- 
liam and Queen Anne. There is a tradition in 
Bentley's family, that Bishop Stillingfleet said, " We 
must send Bentley to rule the turbulent Fellows of 
Trinity College : if any one can do it, he is the 
person ; for he has ruled my family ever since he 
entered it." 

Having thus attained to affluence and honour, he 
married a lady to whom he had been long attached. 
The union was eminently happy. Mrs. Bentley's 
mind was highly cultivated; she was amiable and 
pious ; and the benevolence of her disposition availed 
to soften the animosity of opponents at several critical 
periods of her husband's life. His new station was 
calculated to increase rather than to lessen the 
Master's taste for critical studies. As he occasionally 
gave the results of his inquiries to the public, his 
labours, abounding in erudition and sagacity, by 
degrees raised him to the reputation of being the 


first critic of his age. Among the most remarkable 
of his numerous pieces, we may mention a collection 
of the Fragments of Callimachus, with notes and 
emendations, transmitted to Graevius, in whose 
edition of that poet's works they appeared in 1697; 
and three letters on the Plutus and the Clouds of 
Aristophanes, written to Kuster, and by him dis- 
sected into the form of notes, and published in his 
edition of that author. Copies of two of the original 
epistles have fortunately been preserved, and given 
to the world in the Museum Criticum, after more 
than a century. Kuster had in a great measure 
destroyed their interest by omissions, and by cur- 
tailing their amusing and disgressive playfulness. 
But as they fell from Bentley's own pen, few of his 
writings exhibit more acuteness, or more lively per- 
ception of the elegancies of the Greek tongue. 
About the same time he produced one of the ablest 
and most perfect of his works, his Emendations on 
the Fragments of Menander and Philemon. That 
piece indicates rather intimate acquaintance with his 
subject, and a feeling of security in his positions, 
than direct and immediate labour or research. He 
^^Tote under the assumed name of Phileleutherus 
Lipsiensis, and sent the work to be printed and 
published on the Continent. Under the same 
signature he appeard again in 1713, in his Reply to 
Collins's Discourse of Freethinking. His exposure 
of the sophistry and fallacies peiTading that book 
was judicious and highly effective ; and for the emi- 
nent service done to the Christian religion and the 
clergy of England in this work, by refuting the ob- 
jections and exposing the ignorance of the writers 
calling themselves Freethinkers, Dr. Bentley re- 
ceived the public thanks of the University of Cam- 
bridge assembled in senate, January 4, 1715. But 
his edition of Horace is the capital work, which 


through good and evil report will associate his 
name with the Latin language so long as it endures. 
He completed it in 1711. The tone of the preface 
is arrogant and invidious ; the presumption, which 
is the great blot in his character, both as a man and 
a critic, is more conspicuous in those few pages than 
in all his other productions. With respect to the 
work itself, between seven and eight hundred changes 
in the common readings were introduced into the 
text, contrary to the established practice of classi- 
cal editors. The language of the notes is that of 
absolute dictatorship, not however without an award 
of fair credit to some other commentators. His 
Latinity, although easy and flowing, has been cen- 
sured as by no means pure. Many of his readings 
have been confirmed and adopted by the latest and 
best editors ; others are considered as either un- 
necessary, harsh, or prosaic ; but, with all its faults, 
Bentley's Horace is a monument of inexhaustible 
learning ; the reader, whether convinced or not, 
adds to his stock of knowledge ; and the very errors 
of such a critic are instructive. 

But Bentley's haughty temper, thus displayed in 
his criticisms, burst forth much more injuriously in 
the government of his college, where he carried 
himself so loftily, and gave such serious and repeated 
offence, that several of the Fellows exhibited a com- 
plaint against him before the Bishop of Ely, as 
visitor. Their object was his removal from the 
headship, in furtherance of which they charged him 
with embezzlement, in having improperly applied 
large sums of money to his own use, and with having 
adopted other unworthy and violent proceedings, 
to the interruption of peace and harmony in the 
society. In answer to these imputations he states 
his own case in a letter to the Bishop, which was 
published in octavo in 1710, under the title of the 


Present State of Trinity College. Such was the 
beginning of a long, inveterate, and mischievous 
quarre.l; which, after a continuance of more than 
twenty years, ended in the Master's favour. The 
Biographia Britannica, and the Life of Bentley by 
the present Bishop of Gloucester, necessarily give a 
detailed narrative of this dispute, during the progress 
of which several books were written, with the most 
determined animosity on both sides. We cannot in 
this instance regret the confined space, which pre- 
vents our dilating on a quarrel, unfortunate in its 
origin, virulent in its progress, and, in our opinion, 
especially discreditable to the Master. 

Nor was this the only trial of a spirit sufficiently 
able to bear up against the storms of opposition, and 
by obstinate perseverance to triumph over its adver- 
saries. During the course of the former dispute, 
Bentley had been promoted to the Regius Professor- 
ship of Divinity. George I. paid a visit to the 
miiversity in October, 1717. It is usual on such 
occasions to name several persons for a doctor's 
degree in that faculty by royal mandate ; and the 
principal part of the ceremony consists in what is 
called the creation, that is, the presentation of the 
nominees to the Chancellor, if present, or to the 
Vice-Chancellor in his absence, by the Professor. 
Bentley claimed a fee of four guineas as due from 
each of the Doctors whom it was his office to create, 
in addition to a broad-piece, which had been the 
ancient and customary compliment. There were 
two gold coins under that denomination ; a Jacobus, 
worth twenty-five shillings, and a Carolus, passing 
for twenty -three. Both were called in, and no gold 
pieces of that value have since been coined. The 
Professor refused to create any doctor who would 
not acquiesce in the fee. His arguments in favour 
of the claim were at least plausible ; but it ill be- 

BENTLEY. l^*? 

came so high a functionary to interrupt solemn pro's 
ceedings, and sow discord in a learned body, for a 
mercenary and paltry consideration. From this low 
origin arose a long and warm dispute, in the course 
of which the Master of Trinity and Regius Professor 
was suspended from all his degrees, October 3, 1718, 
and degraded on the seventeenth of that month. 
Of thirty Doctors present, twenty-three voted for the 
degradation of their brother; and of ten heads of 
colleges who attended, all but one joined in the 
sentence. The principal ground for these extra- 
ordinary measures will not appear very strong to 
impartial posterity; it was an alleged contempt in 
speaking of a regular meeting of the Heads of 
Houses, as " the Vice-Chancellor and fom' or five 
of his friends over a bottle." From this sentence 
Bentley petitioned the King for relief: and the 
affair was referred to a committee of the Privy 
Council, whence it was carried into the Court of 
King's Bench, where the four Judges declared their 
opinions seriatim against the proceedings of the uni- 
versity ; and a peremptory mandamus was issued, 
February 7, 1724, after more than five years of 
undignified altercation, charging the Chancellor, 
Masters, and scholars " to restore Richard Bentley 
to all his degrees, and to every other right and pri- 
vilege of which they had deprived him." 

Happily both for himself and the learned world, 
Bentley was gifted with a natural hardiness of tem- 
per, which enabled him to buffet against both these 
storms ; so that he continued to pursue his career of 
literature, as if the elements had been undisturbed. 
November 5, 1715, he delivered a sermon on popery 
from the university pulpit, distinguished by learning 
and argument, and written in an original style, 
which compelled the attention of the hearers, unlike 
those common-place and narcotic declamations 


usually poured forth on that anniversary. It was 
printed, and has incurred the strange fate of having 
been purloined by Sterne, and introduced into Tris- 
tram Shandy. Part of it is read by Corporal Trim, 
whose feelings are so overpowered by the description 
of the Inquisition, that he declares " he would not 
read another line of it for all the world." The 
sermon had the common lot of Bentley's publi- 
cations ; it gave birth to a controversy. It was 
attacked in ' Remarks' by Cummins, a Calvinistic 
dissenter. An answer was put forth with the fol- 
lowing title : ' Reflections on the Scandalous Asper- 
sions on the Clergy, by the author of the Remarks.* 
It is asserted in more than one life of Bentley, that 
he was himself the author of these Reflections ; but 
the Bishop of Gloucester says that no one can believe 
this who reads half a page of the pamphlet. In 
1716 Bentley had propounded the plan of a pro- 
jected edition of the Greek Testament, in a letter to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury. He brooded over 
this design for four years, sparing neither labour nor 
expense to procure the necessary materials. In 1720 
he issued proposals for printing it by subscription, 
together with the Latin version of Jerome ; to which 
proposals a specimen of the execution was annexed. 
The proposals are printed at length in the Biographia 
Britannica, and in Dr. Monk's Life. They were 
virulently attacked by Dr. Conyers Middleton, at 
that time a fellow of Trinity, and a leading person 
in the opposition to the Master, in ' Remarks' on 
Bentley's proposals. At this time Bentley's enemies 
were endeavouring to oust him from his professor- 
ship. It was insinuated that his project was a mere 
pretext, to be abandoned when it had answered his 
temporary purpose of diverting the public mind from 
his personal misconduct. To these suspicions he 
added force by the confession, in excuse for certain 


marks of haste in a paper drawn up, not as a spe- 
cimen of his critical powers, but simply as an adver- 
tisement, that the proposals were drawn up one 
evening by candle-light. Middleton followed up his 
blow by ' Further Remarks:' the publication of the 
Testament was suspended, nor was it ever carried 
into effect. That it was stopped by Middleton'a 
pamphlet, is an error countenanced by numerous 
writers of the time, but denied by Dr. Monk, who 
says that the discontinuance certainly was not owing 
to Middleton's attack. He doubts indeed whether 
Bentley ever looked into the tract, A speech of his 
to Bishop Atterbury shortly after its appearance is 
quite in character : he " scorned to read the rascal's 
book ; but if his Lordship would send him any part 
which he thought the strongest, he would undertake 
to answer it before night." In 1726 his Terence 
was published with notes, a dissertation concerning 
the metres, which he termed Schediasma, and, 
strangely placed in such a work, his speech at the 
Cambridge commencement in 1725. The spright- 
liness and good temper of this short but eloquent 
oration is in strong contrast with his controversial 
asperity : it breathes strong affection for the univer- 
sity, from which body a stranger might suppose that 
he had received the kindest treatment. But even 
this edition of the polished and amiable comedian 
was undertaken in a spirit of jealousy and resent- 
ment against Dean Hare, a former friend and rival 
editor, who had in truth deserved his anger, by 
availing himself of information derived from Bentley 
in an unauthorized and unhandsome manner. The 
notes throughout are in caustic and contemptuous 
language, with unceasing severity against Hare, not 
indeed in that violent strain of abuse which has so 
often marked the warfare of critics, but with cool 
and sneering allusions without the mention of the 


proper name, under the disparaging designation of 
Quidam, est qui, or Vir eruditus. Not content 
with this revenge, Bentley undertook to anticipate 
Hare in an edition of Phaedrus, which is character- 
ized b)'^ Dr. Monk as a " hasty, crude, and unsup- 
ported revision" of the text of that author; in 
which the rashness and presumption of his criticisms 
were rendered still more offensiA'e by the imperious 
conciseness in which his decrees were promulgated. 
Hare, on the contrary, had long been preparing his 
edition : his materials were provided and an anged, 
and he retaliated in an Epistola Critica, addressed 
to Dr. Bland, head-master of Eton. The spirit 
of the epistle is personal and bitter ; and, while it 
undoubtedly had its intended effect in exposing 
Bentley, it is not creditable either to the temper or 
to the consistency of its author. 

The last of Bentley's works which we shall notice 
is his unfortunate edition of Milton's Paradise Lost, 
given to the public in 1732. It is a sad instance of 
utter pen^ersion of judgment in a man of extraordi- 
nary talent. Fenton first suggested that the spots 
in that sun-like performance might be owing to the 
misapprehension of the amanuensis, and the ignorant 
blunders of a poverty-stricken printer. On this 
foundation Bentley, neither himself a poet, nor pos- 
sessing much taste or feeling for the higher effusions 
of even his own favourite authors, the Greek and 
Latin poets, undertook to revise the language, 
remedy the blemishes, and reject the supposed inter- 
polations of our national epic. He was peculiarly 
disqualified for such a task, not only by prosaic 
temperament and the chill of advanced years, but 
by his entire ignorance of the Italian poets and 
romance ^Titers, from whose fables and imagery 
Milton borrowed his illustrations as freely as from 
the more familiar stories and modes of expression of 


the classical authorities. As usual with him, his 
notes were written hastily, and sent immediately to 
the press. The public disapprobation was unani- 
mous and just : but even in this performance many 
acute pieces of criticism are scattered up and down, 
for which the world, disgusted by his audacity and 
flippancy, allows him no credit. 

We must pass quickly over the ten remaining 
years of Bentley's life. They were embittered by a 
fresh contest for character and station before the 
supreme tribunal of the kingdom. The case be- 
tween the Bishop of Ely and Dr. Bentley, respecting 
the visitatorial jurisdiction over Trinity College in 
general, and over the Master in particular, was 
argued first in the Court of King's Bench, and then 
carried by appeal to the House of Lords, where it 
was finally affirmed that the Bishop of Ely was 
visitor. In his seventy-second year Bentley under- 
went a second trial at Ely House, and was sentenced 
to be deprived of his mastership ; but he eluded the 
execution of the sentence, and continued to perform 
the duties of the office which he held. At length a 
compromise was effected between him and some of 
his most active prosecutors, many of whom, as well 
as himself, were septuagenarians. On his proposed 
edition of Homer, distinguished by the restoration 
of the Digamma, we need not enlarge. It appears 
to have been broken off by a paralytic attack, in the 
course of 1739. In the following year he sustained 
the severest loss, by the death of his wife in the 
fortieth year of their union. His own death took 
place July 14, 1742, when he had completed his 
eightieth year. He was buried in the chapel, to 
which he had been a benefactor by giving ^£200 
towards its repairs, soon after he was appointed to 
the mastership. 

Bentley's literary character is known in all parts 


of Europe where learning is known. In his private 
character he was what Johnson liked, a good hater : 
there was much of arrogance, and no little obstinacy, 
in his composition ; but it must be admitted, on the 
other hand, that he had many high and amiable 
qualities. Though too prone to encounter hostility 
by oppression, he was warm and sincere in friend- 
ship, an affectionate husband, and a good father. 
In the exercise of hospitality at his lodge he main- 
tained the dignity of the college, and rivalled the 
munificence even of the papal priesthood. His 
benefactions to the college were also liberal : but he 
exacted from it far more than it was willing to pay, 
or than any former master had received; and his 
name would stand fairer if his generosity had been 
less distinguished, provided that, at the same time, 
his conduct had been less grasping. We shall only 
add that the severity of his temper as a critic and 
controversial writer was exchanged in conversation 
for a strain of vivacity and pleasantry peculiar to 

Bentley had three children : a son called by his 
own name, and two daughters. The son was bred 
under his own tuition at Trinity College, where he 
obtained a fellowship. His contemporaries acknow- 
ledge his genius, but lament that his pursuits were 
so desultory and various as to exclude him from that 
substantial fame which his talents might have en- 
sured. Dr. Bentley's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, 
married Mr, Humphry Ridge, a gentleman of good 
family in Hampshire, but was left a widow in less 
than a year, and returned to reside with her father. 
The youngest, Joanna, married Mr. Denison Cum- 
berland, grandson to the learned Bishop of Peter- 
borough. The first issue of this marriage was the 
late Richard Cumberland, well known in the repub 
lie of letters, and especially as a dramatic writer. 


In his memoir of his own life Mr. Cumberland gives 
some amusing anecdotes of his grandfather in his 
old age. His object seems to have been to paint the 
domestic character of Bentley in a pleasing light, 
and to counteract the prevalent opinion of his stern 
and overbearing manners. The old man's personal 
kindness towards himself seems to have produced a 
deep and well-merited feeling of gratitude. His 
communications however are of little value, for he 
neglected his opportunities of obtaining accurate and 
more important information from his mother and 
other relatives of the great critic. 



Edmund Halley, one of the greatest astronomers 
of an age which produced many, was born at a 
country house named Haggerston, in the parish of 
St. Leonard, Shoreditch, October 29, 1656. His 
father, a wealthy citizen and soapboiler, intrusted 
the care of his son's education to Dr. Gale, master 
of St. Paul's School. Here young Halley applied 
himself to the study of mathematics and astronomy 
with what was then considered great success ; for, 
before he left school, he understood the use of the 
celestial globe, and could construct a sun-dial ; and, 
as he has himself informed us, had already observed 
the variation of the needle. In 1673, being in the 
seventeenth year of his age, he was entered of 
Queen's College, Oxford, and two years afterwards 
gave the first proof of his astronomical genius by 

HALLEY. 181^ 

publishing in the Philosophical Transactions, 1676, 
"A direct and geometrical method of finding the 
Aphelia and Eccentricities of the Planets." His 
father, who seems to have had none of that anti- 
pathy to a son's engaging in literary or scientific 
pursuits, which is represented as common to men of 
commerce by the writers of that age, supplied him 
liberally with astronomical instruments. Thus as- 
sisted, he made many observations, particularly of 
Jupiter and Saturn, by means of which he discovered 
that the motion of Saturn was slower, and that of 
Jupiter quicker than could be accounted for by the 
existing tables; and made some progress in cor- 
recting those tables accordingly. But he soon found 
that nothing could be done without a good catalogue 
of the stars. This, it appears, he had some inten- 
tion of forming ; but, finding that Hevelius and 
Flamsteed were already employed on the same work, 
he proposed to himself to proceed to the southern 
hemisphere, and to complete the design by observing 
those stars which never rise above the horizons of 
Dantzic and Greenwich. Having obtained his fa- 
ther's consent, and an allowance of £300 a-year; 
and having fixed upon St. Helena as the most con- 
venient spot, he applied to Sir Joseph Williamson 
and Sir Jonas Moor, the Secretary of State and the 
Surveyor of the Ordnance. These gentlemen re- 
presented his intention in a favourable light to 
Charles H., and also to the East-India Company, 
who promised him every assistance in their power. 
Thus protected, he set out for St. Helena in 1676; 
his principal instruments being a sextant of five feet 
and a half radius, and a telescope of twenty-four feet 
in length. He found the climate not so favourable 
as he had been led to believe, and moreover de- 
scribes himself as disgusted with the treatment he 
received from the Governor. Under these disad- 


136 HALLE Y. 

vantages, he nevertheless formed a catalogue of 350 
stars, which he afterwards published under the name 
of ' Catalogus Stellarum Australium.' He called a 
new constellation which he had observed by the 
title of Robur Carolinum, in honour of the well- 
known oak of Charles II. While at St. Helena he 
also observed a transit of Mercury, and suggested 
the use whicli might be made of similar phenomena 
in the determination of the sun's distance from tlie 
earth. He first observ^ed the necessity of shortening 
the pendulum as it approached the equator ; or, at 
least, when Hook afterwards mentioned the cir- 
cumstance to Newton, it was the first time the latter 
had heard of the fact. 

Soon after his return to England, in November, 
1678, Halley obtained the degree of M.A. from the 
University of Oxford, by royal mandate, and was 
elected Fellow of the Royal Society. This body 
had been requested by Hevelius to select some person 
who might add the southern stars to his catalogue. 
A dispute was also pending between him and Hook, 
as to the use of telescopes in observing the stars, to 
which the former objected. To aid Hevelius, as 
well as to decide upon the character of his observa- 
tions, Halley went to Dantzic, and it is related, as a 
proof of the energy of his character, that in one 
month from the time of his landing in England he 
published his catalogue, procured a mandate, took 
the degree, was elected F.R.S., arranged to go to 
Dantzic, and wrote to Hevelius. He arrived on the 
26th of May, 1679, and the same night entered upon 
a series of obser\'ations with Hevelius, which he 
continued till July, when he returned to England, 
fully satisfied of his coadjutor's accuracy. 

In 1680 he again visited the continent. Between 
Paris and Calais he had a sight of the celebrated 
comet of that year, well known as the one by ob- 

H ALLEY. 18"^ 

servations of which the orbit of these bodies was dis- 
covered to be nearly a parabola. He returned from 
his travels in the year 1681, and shortly after mar- 
ried the daughter of a Mr. Tooke, then Auditor of 
the Exchequer, which union lasted fifty-five years. 
He settled at Islington, where, for more than ten 
years, he occupied himself with his usual pursuits, 
of the results of which we shall presently speak more 

In 1691 the Savilian Professorship of Astronomy 
became vacant, and, as Whiston relates, on the au- 
thority of Dr. Bentley, Bishop Stillingfleet was re- 
quested to recommend Mr. Halley. But the astro- 
nomer's avowed disbelief of Christianity interfered 
with his election in this instance, and the Professor- 
ship was given to Dr. Gregory. It is related by Sir 
David Brewster that Halley, when inclined to enter 
upon religious subjects with Newton, always received 
a check in words like the following, " You have not 
studied the subject — I have." 

After the above-mentioned failure, our astronomer 
received from King William the commission of 
Captain in the Navy, with command of a small 
vessel. The singularity of the reward need not sur- 
prise us, when the same monarch offered a com- 
pany of dragoons to Swift : indeed the pursuits of 
Captain Halley were nearly akin to those of naviga- 
tion, and he himself might be almost as well qua- 
lified for sailing, though perhaps not for fighting a 
ship, as most of his brother officers. In his new 
character Halley made two voyages, the first to the 
Mediterranean, the Brazils, and the West Indies, 
for the purpose of ascertaining the variation of the 
magnet, a subject in which he was much interested, 
and of which he afterwards published a chart ; the 
second to ascertain the latitudes and longitudes of 
the principal points in the British Channel, and the 


138 HALLET. 

course of the tides. In 1703 he was elected Savilian 
Professor of Geometry, on the death of the cele- 
brated Wallis. He received, about the same time, 
the degree of Doctor of Laws, which is conferred 
without requiring subscription to the Articles of the 
Church. In his connexion with the University he 
superintended several parts of the edition of the 
Greek Geometers, which was printed at the Uni- 
versity press. 

Halley succeeded Sir Hans Sloane, in 1713, as 
Secretary to the Royal Society; and, in 1719, on 
the death of Flamsteed, he was appointed Astro- 
nomer Royal at Greenwich. In this employment 
he continued till his death, under the patronage of 
Queen Caroline, wife of George II., who procured 
for him the half-pay of the rank he formerly held in 
the navy. In 1737 he was seized with a paralytic 
disorder ; but nevertheless continued his labours till 
within a short time of his death, which took place 
in January, 1742, at the age of eighty-five. He 
was interred at Lee, near Blackheath, where a mo- 
nument was erected to him and his wife by their 
two daughters. 

In person Dr. Halley was rather tall, thin, and 
fair, and remarkable as well for energy as vivacity 
of character. He cultivated the friendship and 
acquired the esteem of his most distinguished con- 
temporaries, and particularly of Newton, spite of 
their very different opinions. Indeed it may be said 
that to him we owe, in some degree, the publication 
of the 'Principia;' for Halley, being engaged upon 
the consideration of Kepler's law, as it had been 
discovered by observation, viz., that the squares of 
the periodic times of planets are as the cubes of 
their distances, and suspecting that this might be 
accounted for on the supposition of a centripetal 
force, varying inversely as the square of the distance, 

H ALLEY. 139 

applied himself to prove the connexion geometrically, 
in which he was unable to succeed. In this difficulty 
he applied to Hook and Wren, neither of whom 
could help him, and was recommended to consult 
Newton, then Lucasian Professor at Cambridge. 
Following this advice, he found in Newton all he 
wanted; and did not rest until he had persuaded 
his new acquaintance to give the results of his dis- 
coveries to the world. In about two years after this, 
the first edition of the ' Principia' was published, 
and the proofs were corrected by Halley, who sup- 
plied the well-known Latin verses which stand at the 
beginning of the work. 

In conversation Halley appears to have been of a 
jocose and somewhat satirical disposition. The fol- 
lowing anecdote of him, which is told by Whiston, 
displays the usual modesty of the latter, when 
speaking of himself: " On my refusal from him of 
a glass of wine on a Wednesday or Friday, he said 
he was afraid I had a pope in my belly, which I 
denied, and added somewhat bluntly, that had it not 
been for the rise now and then of a Luther or a 
Whiston, he would himself have gone down on his 
knees to St. Winifred or St. Bridget, which he knew 
not how to contradict." It is related that, when 
Queen Caroline offered to obtain an increase of 
Halley's salary as Astronomer Royal, he replied, 
" Pray, your Majesty, do no such thing ; for, should 
the salary be increased, it might become an object 
of emolument to place there some unqualified needy 
dependant, to the ruin of the institution." And yet 
the sum which he would not suffer to be increased 
was only £100 a-year. 

To give even a catalogue of the various labours 
of Halley would require more space than we can 
^ere devote to the subject, For a more detailed 

140 H ALLEY. 

account, both of his life and discoveries, we must 
refer the reader to the Biographia Britannica, to 
Delambre, Histoire de rAstronomie au dix-huitieme 
Siecle, li\Te II., and the Philosophical Transactions 
of the time in which he lived ; or better perhaps to 
the Miscellanea Curiosa, London, 1726, a selection 
of papers from the Transactions, containing the 
most remarkable of those written by Halley. We 
shall, nevertheless, proceed briefly to notice a few 
of the discoveries on which the fame of our astro- 
nomer is built. 

The most remarkable of them, to a common 
reader, is the conjecture of the return of a comet. 
Some earlier astronomers, as Kepler, had imagined 
the motion of these bodies to be rectilinear. Newton, 
in explaining the principle of universal gravitation, 
showed how a comet might describe a parabola, and 
also how to calculate its motion, and compare it 
with observation. Hevelius had already indicated 
the curvature of a comet's path, and Dorfel, a Saxon 
clergyman, had calculated the path of the comet of 
1680 upon this supposition. Halley, in computing 
the parabolic elements of all the comets which had 
been well observed up to his time, suspected, from 
the general likeness of the three, that the comets of 
1531, 1607, and 1682, were the same. He was the 
more confirmed in this, by knowing that comets had 
been seen, though no good observations were recorded, 
in the years 1305, 1380, and 1456, ginng, with the 
former dates, a chain of differences of 75 and 76 
years alternately. Halley supposed, therefore, that 
the orbit of this comet was, not a parabola, but a 
very elongated ellijjse, and that it would return about 
the year 1758. The truth of his conjecture was 
fully confirmed in January, 1759, by Messier. The 
first person, however, who saw Halley 's comet, as it 

HALLE Y. 141 

is now called,' was George Palitzch, a farmer in the 
neighbourhood of Dresden, who had studied astro- 
nomy by himself, and fitted up a small observatory. 

But a much more useful exertion of Halley's genius 
and power of calculation is to be found in his re- 
searches on the lunar theory. It is to him that we 
are indebted for first starting the idea of finding the 
longitude at sea by means of the moon's place, which 
is now universally adopted. The principle of this 
problem is as follows. An observer at sea can 
readily find the time of day by means of the sun or 
a star, and can thereby correct a watch. If he could, 
at the same moment in which he finds his own time, 
also discover that at Greenwich, the difference 
between the two, turned into degrees, minutes, and 
seconds, would be his longitude east or west of 
Greenwich. If, therefore, he carries with him a 
Nautical Almanac, in which the times of various 
astronomical phenomena are registered, as they will 
take place at Greenwich, or rather as they will be 
seen by an observer placed at the centre of the earth 
with a Greenwich clock, he can observe any one of 
these phenomena, and reduce it also to the centre. He 
will then know the corresponding moments of time, 
for his own position and that of Greenwich. The 
moon traverses the whole of its orbit in little more 
than 27 days, and therefore moves rapidly with 
respect to the fixed stars, its motion being nearly a 
whole sign of the zodiac in 48 hours. If we observe 
the distance between the moon and a star, and find 
it to be ten degrees, the longitude of the place in 
which the observation is made can be known as 
aforesaid, if the almanac will tell what time it was 
at Greenwich when the moon was at that same dis- 
tance from the star. In the time of Halley, though 
it was known that the moon moved nearly in an 
ellipse, yet the elements of that ellipse, and the 
various irregularities to which it is subject, were very 

142 HALLE Y. 

imperfectly ascertained. It had, however, been 
known, even from the time of the Chaldeans, that 
some of these irregularities have a period, as it is 
called, of little more than eighteen years, that is, 
begin again in the same order after every eighteen 
years ; the periods and quantities of several other 
errors had also been discovered with something like 
accuracy. To make good lunar tables, that is, tables 
from which the place of the moon might be correctly 
calculated beforehand, became the object of Halley's 
ambition. He therefore observed the moon dili- 
gently during the whole of one of the periods of 
eighteen years, that is, from the end of 1721 to that 
of 1739, and produced tables which were published 
in 1749, after his death, and were of great service to 
astronomers. He also made another observation on 
the motion of the moon, which has since given rise 
to one of the finest discoveries of Laplace. In cal- 
culating from our tables the time of an ancient eclipse, 
observed at Babylon, b. c. 720, he found that, liad 
the tables been correct, it would have happened 
three hours sooner than, according to Ptolemy, it 
did happen. This might have arisen from an error 
in the Babylonian observation ; but, on looking at 
other eclipses, he found that the ancient ones always 
happened later than the time indicated by his table, 
and that the difference became less and less as he 
approached his own time. From hence he con- 
cluded that the moon's average daily motion is sub- 
ject to a very small acceleration, so that a lunar 
month at present is in a very slight degree shorter 
than a month in the time of the Chaldeans. This was 
afterwards shown by Laplace to arise from a very slow 
diminution in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit, 
caused by the attraction of the planets. For a further 
account of Halleys astronomical labours we may 
refer to the History of Astronomy in the Library of 
Useful Knowledge, page 79. 


We must also ascribe to Halley the first correct 
application of the barometer to the measurement of 
the heights of mountains. Mariotte, who first 
enunciated the remarkabl^law that the elastic forces 
of gases are in the inverse proportion of the spaces 
which they occupy, had previously given a formula 
for the determination of these same heights, entirely 
wrong in principle, and inapplicable in practice. 
Halley, whose profound mathematical knowledge 
made him fully equal to the task, investigated and 
discovered the common formula, which, with some 
corrections for the temperature of the mercury in 
the barometer and the air without it, is in use at 
this day. We have already mentioned that Halley 
sailed to various parts of the earth with a view to 
determine the variation of the magnet. The result 
of his labours was communicated to the Royal 
Society in a map of the lines of equal variation and 
also of the course of the trade-^vinds. He attempted 
to explain the phenomena of the compass by sup- 
posing that the earth is one great magnet, having 
four poles, two near each pole of the equator ; and 
further accounts for the variation which the com- 
pass undergoes from year to year in the same place, 
by imagining a magnetic sphere, interior to the 
surface of the earth, which nucleus or inner globe 
turns on an axis with a velocity of rotation very 
little differing from that of the earth itself. This 
hypothesis has shared the fate of many others 
purely mathematical ; that is, invented to show how 
the observed phenomena might be produced, with- 
out any ground of observation for believing that they 
really are so produced. If we put together the as- 
tronomical and geographical discoveries of Halley, 
and remember that the former were principally con- 
fined to those points which bear upon the subjects 
of the latter, we shall be able to find a title for their 

144 H ALLEY. 

author less liable to cavil than that of the Prince 
of Astronomers, which has sometimes been bestowed 
upon him ; we may safely say that no man, either 
before or since, has done more to improve the theo- 
retical part of navigation, by the diligent observa- 
tion alike of heavenly and earthly phenomena. 

We pass over many minor subjects, such as his im- 
provement of the diving-bell, or his measurement of 
the quantity of fluid abstracted by evaporation from 
the sea, to come to an application of science in which 
he led the way, — the investigation of the law of 
mortality. From observations communicated to 
the Royal Society of the births and deaths in the 
city of Breslau, he constructed the first table of mor- 
tality, which was in a great measure the foundation 
of the celebrated hypothesis of De Moivre, that the 
decrements of human life are nearly equal at all 
ages ; that is, that out of eighty-six persons born, 
one' dies every year, until all are gone. Halley's 
table, as might be expected, was not very applicable 
to human life in England, either then or now, but 
the effect of example is conspicuous in this instance. 
Before the death of Halley the tables of Kerseboom 
were published, and four years afterwards, those of 
De Parcieux. 

We will not enlarge on the purely mathematical 
investigations of Halley, which would possess but 
little interest for the general reader. We may men- 
tion, however, his method for the solution of equa- 
tions, his ' Analogy of the Logarithmic Tangents 
to the Meridian Line, or sum of the secants,' his 
algebraic investigation of the place of the focus of 
a lens, and his improvement of the method of finding 
logarithms. From the latter we quote a sentence, 
which, to the reader, for whose benefit we have 
omitted entering upon any discussion of these sub- 
jects, will appear amusing enough, if indeed he does 

HALLE7. 145 

not shrink to see how much he has degenerated 
from his ancestors. After describing a process which 
contains calculation enough for most people, and 
which further directs to multiply sixty figures by 
sixty figures, he adds, " If the curiosity of any 
gentleman that has leisure would prompt him to 
undertake to do the logarithms of all prime numbers 
under 100,000 to 23 or 30 figures, I dare assure 
him that the facility of this method will invite him 
thereto; nor can anything more easy be desired. 
And to encourage him, I here give the logarithms 
of the first prime numbers under 20 to 60 places." 
One look at these encouraging rows of figures would 
be sufficient for any but a calculating boy. 

No one who is conversant with the mathematics 
and their applications can read the life of the mathe- 
maticians of the seventeenth century without a strong 
feeling of respect for the manner in which they 
overcame obstacles, and of gratitude for the labour 
which they have saved their successors. The 
brilliancy of later names has, in some degree, eclipsed 
their fame with the multitude ; but no one acquainted 
with the history of science can forget, how with 
poor instruments and imperfect processes, they 
achieved successes, but for which Laplace might 
have made the first rude attempts towards finding the 
longitude, and Lagrange might have discovered the 
law which connects the coefficients of the binomial 
theorem. But even of these men the same thing 
may one day be said; and future analysts may 
wonder how Laplace, with his paltry means of in- 
vestigation, could account for the phenomenon of 
the acceleration of the moon's motion ; and future 
astronomers may, should such a sentence as the 
present ever meet tlieir eyes, be surprised that the 
observers of the nineteenth century should hold their 
heads so high above those of the seventeenth. 



Alexander Pope was bom in London, June 8, 168S. 
His father was a merchant, of good family, attaclied 
to the Roman Catholic religion ; and his own 
childish years were spent, first under the tuition of 
a priest, then at a Roman Catholic Seminary at 
Twyford, near Winchester. He taught himself to 
write by copying printed books, in the execution of 
which he attained great neatness and exactness. 
When little more than eight years old he acci- 
dentally met with Ogilby's Translation of Homer. 
The versification is insipid and lifeless; but the 
stirring events and captivating character of the story 
80 possessed his mind, that Ogilby became a fa- 
vourite book. When about ten years old he was 
removed from Tv\7ford to a school at Hyde Park 
Corner. He had there occasional opiiortunities of 
frequenting the theatre ; which suggested to him 
the amusement of turning the chief events in Homer 

POPE. 147 

into a kind of play, composed of a succession of 
speeches from Ogilby, strung together by verses of 
his own. In these two schools he seems, instead of 
advancing, to have lost what he had gained under 
his first tutor. When twelve years old he went to 
live with his parents at Binfield, in Windsor Forest. 
He there became acquainted with the writings of 
Spenser, Waller, and Dryden. For the latter he 
conceived the greatest admiration. He saw him 
once, and commemorates the event in his corre- 
spondence, under the words "Virgilium tantum 
vidi :" but he was too young to have made ac- 
quaintance with that master of English verse, who 
died in 1701. He studied Dryden's works with 
equal attention and pleasure, adopted them as a 
model of rhythm, and copied the structure of that 
author's periods. This was, however, so far from a 
grovelling imitation, that it enabled him to raise 
English rhyme to the most perfect melody of which 
it is capable. 

In the retirement of Binfield, Pope laboured suc- 
cessfully to make amends for the loss of past time. 
At fourteen years of age he had written with some 
elegance, and at fifteen had attained some knowledge 
of the Greek and Latin languages, to which he soon 
added French and Italian. In 1704 he began his 
pastorals, published in 1709, which introduced him, 
through Wycherley, to the acquaintance of Walsh, 
who proved a sincere friend to him. That gentle- 
man discovered at once that Pope's talent lay less in 
striking out new thoughts of his own, than in easy 
versification, and in improving what he borrowed 
from the ancients. Among other useful hints, he 
pointed out that we had several great poets, but 
that none of them were correct ; he therefore 
admonished him to make that merit his own. The 




advice was gratefully received; and Pope's corre- 
spondence shows that it was carefully followed. 
His melodious numbers, so marked a feature of his 
style, were in a great measure the result of that 

In the same year, 1704, he wrote the first part of 
Ills ' Windsor Forest :' the whole was not published 
till 1713. The fault charged on this poem is, that 
few images are introduced which are not equally 
applicable to any other sylvan scenery. It was 
dedicated to Lord Lansdowne, whom he mentions 
as one of his earliest acquaintance. To those 
already named, may be added Bolingbroke, Con- 
greve. Garth, Swift, Atterbury, Talbot, Somers, and 
Sheffield, whose friendship he had gained at sixteen 
or seventeen years of age. Pope, to his credit be it 
set down, cultivated friendships not only with the 
great, but with his brethren among the poets. 
Wycherley indeed was infected with the weakness 
of the archbishop in ' Gil Bias,' touching his own 
compositions, and the young poet was imprudently 
caustic in his criticism on the old one. Their cor- 
respondence was consequently dropped ; and though 
renewed through the mediation of a common friend, 
it was with no revival of cordiality. But in 1728, 
some time after Wycherley's death, his poems were 
republished ; and in the following year Pope printed 
several letters which had passed between them, in 
vindication of Wycherley's fame as a poet, in answer 
to certain misrepresentations prefixed to that edition. 
This quarrel was a trying affair in the outset of 
Pope's career, and his conduct had been above his 
years ; but young as he was, his talents were now 
beginning to ripen. His example confirms the 
truth of Lord Bacon's remark, that personal de- 
formity acts as a spur to that improvement of the 

POPE. 149 

mind, which is most likely to rescue him who is 
curtailed of his due proportion from a sense of 

To this early period of Pope's life belong the 
* Messiah,' the ' Ode for St. Cecilia's Day,' ' Verses 
to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady,' and other 
of Pope's minor pieces, which were collected and 
published in a small 8vo. volume in 1720. It is 
stated in a note to Dr. Johnson's Life, that Pope 
himself was the object of the passion commemorated 
in the last-mentioned poem. The date of that most 
brilliant composition, ' Eloisa to Abelard,' is un- 
certain. The ' Essay on Criticism' was written in 
1709, "A work," says Johnson, "which displays 
such extent of comprehension, such nicety of dis- 
tinction, such acquaintance with mankind, and such 
knowledge both of ancient and modern learning, as 
are not often attained by the maturest age and long- 
est experience." Pope's fame was carried to its 
height by the ' Rape of the Lock.' That poem 
originated in an impertinence offered by Lord Petre 
to Mrs. Arabella Fermor, which led to a quarrel 
between their respective families. Bot'h parties were 
among Pope's acquaintance, and this lively piece 
was written to produce a reconciliation, in which it 
succeeded. The universal applause given to the 
first sketch induced the author to enrich it with the 
machinery of the Sylphs. In that new dress the 
two cantos, extended to five, came out in 1712, 
accompanied by a letter to Mrs. Arabella Fermor, 
to whom he afterwards addressed another after her 
marriage, in the spruce and courtly style of Voiture. 
A sentence or two may be quoted as a sample of the 
poet's epistolary manner. " Madam, you are sen- 
sible, by this time, how much the tenderness of one 
man of merit is to be preferred to the addresses of a 
thousand ; and by this time, the gentleman you have 

150 roPE. 

made choice of is sensible how great is the joy of 
having all those charms and good qualities which 
have pleased so many, now applied to please one 
only. ... It may be expected, perhaps, that one 
who has the title of being a wit should say something 
more polite upon this occasion ; but I am really 
more a well-wisher to your felicity, than a celebrator 
of your beauty. ... I hope you will think it but 
just that a man, who will certainly be spoken of as 
your admirer after he is dead, may have the happi- 
ness, while he is living, to be esteemed. Yours,, &c." 
This letter is sometimes annexed to the poem, and 
not injudiciously, as it completes the winding-up in 
the happy marriage of the heroine. In the same 
year he published his ' Temple of Fame,' which, 
according to his habitual caution, he had kept two 
years in his study. It appears from one of his 
letters, that at that time he had made some progress 
in translating the Iliad: in 1713 he circulated pro- 
posals for publishing his translation by subscription. 
He had been pressed to this undertaking some time 
before by several of his friends, and was now en- 
couraged in the design by others. The publication 
of the first four books, in 1715, gave general satis- 
faction; and so materially improved the author's 
finances, that he resolved to come nearer to his 
friends in the capital. With that view, the small 
estate at Binfield was sold, and he purchased a house 
at Twickenham, whither he removed with his father 
and mother before the end of the year 1715. VV^hile 
employed in the decoration of his seat, he could 
not forbear doubling his pleasures by boasting of it 
in his communications with his friends. In a letter 
to Mr. Blount he says, in his customary tone of gal- 
lantry, " The young ladies may be assured that I- 
make nothing new in my gardens, without wishing 
to see them print their fairy steps in every corner of 



them. . . . You'll think I have been very poetical 
in this description, but it is pretty nearly the truth." 



[Entrance to Pope's Grotto.] 

This letter was written in 1725. Warburton tells 
us that the improvement of his celebrated grotto 
was the favourite amusement of his declining years : 
not long before his death, by enlarging and orna- 
menting it with ores and minerals of the richest 
and rarest kind, he had made it a most elegant and 
romantic retirement. But modern taste will scarcely 
confirm the reverend editor's assertion, that, " the 

152 roPE. 

beauty of his poetic genius, in the disposition and 
ornaments of those romantic materials, appeared to 
as much advantage as in any of his best-contrived 

Pope's father sun'ived his removal to Twicken- 
ham only two years. The old gentleman had some- 
times recommended to his son the study of medicine, 
as the best method of increasing his scanty patri- 
mony. Neglect of pecuniary considerations was not 
among Pope's weaknesses : he did not indeed engage 
in the medical profession ; but he took other oppor- 
tunities of pushing his fortune. With this view, he 
published an edition of his collected poems in 1717; 
a proceeding as much suggested by profit as by fame. 
In the like disposition, he undertook a new edition 
of Shakspeare, which was published in 1721. The 
execution of it proved the editor's unfitness for the 
task which he had undertaken. Immediately after 
the completion of the Iliad, in 1720, Pope engaged, 
for a considerable sum, to undertake the Odyssey. 
Only twelve books, however, of the translation pro- 
ceeded from his own pen; the rest were done by 
Broome and Fenton under his direction. The work 
was completed in 1725. The following year was 
employed, in concert with Swift and Arbuthnot, in 
the publication of miscellanies, of which the most 
remarkable is the celebrated ' History of Martinus 
Scriblerus.' About this time, as he was returning 
home one day in Lord Bolingbroke's chariot, it was 
overturned on Chase Bridge, near Twickenham, and 
thrown with the horses into the river. The glasses 
being up, Pope was nearly drowned, and was extri- 
cated with difficulty from his hazardous situation. 
He lost the use of two fingei*s, in consequence of a 
severe cut from the broken glass. 

Having secured an independent fortune, Pope 
endeavoured to protect his literary fame from all 

POPE. 153 

future attacks, by browbeating eveiyone into silence: 
this he hoped to accomplish by the poem of the 
' Dunciad,' which came out in 4to. in the year 1727. 
He somewhere says, that the life of an author is a 
state of warfare : he now showed himself a master 
in literary tactics, a great captain in offensive as 
well as defensive war. The poem made its first 
appearance in Ireland, cautiously, as a masked 
battery ; nor was the triumph completed without 
the co-operation of an Eugene with this satirical 
Marlborough in the person of Swift, who furnished 
some of the materials in his own masterly style of 
sarcasm. The improved edition was printed in 
London in 1728. Sir Robert Walpole presented it 
to the King and Queen, and, probably at the same 
time, offered to procure the author a pension ; but 
Pope refused this, as he had before, in 1714, rejected 
a similar proposal from Lord Halifax. In a letter 
to Sv/ift, written about this time, he expresses his 
feelings thus : " I was once before displeased at you 

for complaining to Mr. of my not having a 

pension; I am so again at your naming it to a 
certain lord." In 1710 Mr. Craggs had given him 
a subscription for one hundred pounds in the South 
Sea Fund ; but he made no use of it. These favours 
must be understood to have been proffered for the 
purjjose of estranging him from his personal friends ; 
and this repeated rejection of them is an honourable 
proof of steadiness to his attachments. 

In 1729, the poet, by Lord Bolingbroke's advice, 
turned his pen to moral subjects ; and, with the 
assistance of his friend, set to work upon the ' Essay 
on Man.' Bolingbroke writes thus to Swift : " Bid 
Pope talk to you of the work he is about, I hope in 
good earnest ; it is a fine one, and, will be, in liis 
hands, an original." Pope tells the dean, in his 
next letter, what this work was. *' The work Lord 


154 POPE. 

Bolingbroke speaks of with such abundant partiality 
is a system of ethics, in the Horatian way." In 
another letter, written probably at the beginning of 
the following year, we trace the general aim which 
he at all events wished the public to attribute to 
this work. " I am just now writing, or rather plan- 
ning, a book to bring mankind to look upon this life 
with comfort and pleasure, and put morality in good 
humour." This subject was well suited to his 
genius. He found the performance more easy than 
he had expected, and employed his leisure by fol- 
lowing up the design in his Ethic Epistles, which 
came out separately in the course of the two fol- 
lowing years. The fourth, addressed to the Earl of 
Burlington, did no good to the author's character, in 
consequence of the violent attack supposed to be 
made on the Duke of Chandos, a beneficent and 
esteemed nobleman, under the name of Timon. 
Pope loudly asserted that in drawing Timon's cha- 
racter he had not the Duke in view : but his denials 
have not obtained credence; and he has thus in- 
cuiTed the charge of equivocation and falsehood, 
without exculpating himself from that of ingratitude 
and wanton insolence. The vexation caused by this 
business was somewhat softened by the rapid and 
lucrative sale of the epistle, which very soon went 
through the press a third time. In a letter to Lord 
Bolingbroke he says, " Certainly the writer de- 
served more candour, even in those who knew him 
not, than to promote a report, which, in regard to 
that noble person, was impertinent ; in regard to 
me, villanous. I have taken an opportunity of the 
third edition, to declare his belief not only of my 
innocence, but of their malignity; of the former of 
which my heart is as conscious as I fear some of 
theirs must be of the latter. His humanity feels a 
concern for the injury done to me, while his great- 

POPE. 155 

ness of mind can bear with indifference the insult 
offered to himself." He concludes with a threat 
of using real instead of fictitious names in his 
future works. How far he carried that menace into 
effect will presently be seen. The complaints made 
against the epistle in question by secret enemies pro- 
voked him to write satire, in which he ventured to 
attack the characters of some persons in high life : 
the affront was of course resented, and he retaliated 
by renewing his invective against them, both in 
prose and verse. In the imitation of the first satire 
of the second book of Horace he had described 
Lord Hervey and Lady Mary Wortley Montague so 
characteristically, under the names of Lord Fanny 
and Sappho, that those noble personages, besides 
fighting the aggressor with his own weapons, used 
their interests to his injury, not only among the 
nobility, but with the King and Queen. Pope re- 
monstrated most strongly against this last mode of 
revenge. He continued writing satires till the year 
1739, when he entertained some thoughts of under- 
taking an epic poem on the pretended colonization 
of our island by the Trojan Brute. A sketch of 
this project, which he never carried into effect, is 
given in Ruffhead's ' Life of Pope,' p. 410. 

Pope was an elaborate letter-writer; and many 
of his familiar epistles found their way into the 
world without his privity. Under the plea of self- 
defence he pubhshed a correct and genuine collec- 
tion of them in 1737. About this time the weak 
state of his health drew him frequently to Bath. 
Mr. Allen, a resident in the neighbourhood, having 
been pleased with the letters, took occasion to 
form an acquaintance with the author, which soon 
ripened into friendship. Hence arose Pope's intimacy 
with Warburton, who tells us that, before they knew 
each other, he had written his ' Commentary on the 

156 POPE. 

Art of Criticism, and on the Essay on Man.' One 
complaint against that essay had rested on its 
obscurity, of which the author had previously been 
warned by Swift. But this was comparatively a 
slight objection : the philosophic poet was charged 
AAith having insidiously laid down a scheme of deism. 
A French translation, by the Abbe Resnil, ap- 
peared at Paris in 1738, on which a German pro- 
fessor, by name Crousaz, animadverted, as a system 
of ethics embodying the doctrine of fatalism. Pope 
thus acknowledges his obligation to Warburton for 
his defence : " You have made my system as clear 
as I ought to have done, and could not ; you under- 
stand me as well as I do myself, but you express me 
better than I express myself." The ' Essay on 
Man' was re-published with the Commentary an- 
nexed in 1740; and at the instance of Warburton, 
a fourth book was added to the ' Dunciad,' and 
printed separately in 1742. 

In the course of the following year the whole 
poem of the ' Dunciad' was published together, as 
a specimen of a more correct edition of Pope's v/orks, 
which the author had then resolved to give to the 
world ; but he did not live to complete it. He had 
through life been subject to an habitual headache 
inherited from his mother, and this was now greatly 
increased, with the addition of dropsical symptom.s. 
He died on the 30th of May, 1744, in the "fifty-sixth 
year of his age. Pursuant to his own request, his 
body was laid in the same vault with those of his 
parents, to whose memory he had erected a monu- 
ment, with an inscription written by himself, im- 
mediately on their respective deaths. To this, in 
conformity with his will, the simple words, " Et 
sibi," with the date of his death, were added. He 
bequeathed to Warburton the property of such of 
his works already printed as he had written, or 

POPE. 157 

should write, commentaries upon, provided they had 
not been otherwise disposed of or alienated ; with 
this condition, that they were to be published with- 
out future alterations. After he had made his will, 
he wrote a letter to this legatee, announcing his 
legacy, and saying, " I own the late encroachments 
upon my constitution make me willing to see the end 
of all further care about me, or my works. I would 
rest for the one in a full resignation of my being to be 
disposed of by the Father of all mercy ; and for the 
other (though indeed a trifle, yet a trifle may be 
some example), I would commit them to the can- 
dour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than 
to the malice of every shortsighted and malevolent 
critic, or inadvertent and censorious reader. And 
no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well 
can turn their best side to the day, as your own." 
In discharge of his trust, Warburton put forth a 
complete edition of all Pope's works in 1751 ; and, 
according to his own persuasion, executed it con- 
formably to the presumed wishes of the author. In 
point of elegance, allowing for the state of typography 
at the time, no objection could be made, nor could 
the poet's orders have been more faithfully obeyed, 
in forming the various pieces into a collection. But 
some of Warburton's remarks are in a less friendly 
tone than might have been expected ; and if not 
absolutely injurious to his memory, are such as 
leave Pope's moral character in a measure open to 
attack. Many circumstances are related in the 
large biographies of Pope, which our inclination 
would as little allow us as our limits to detail. Some 
of them would not compensate in desirable informa- 
tion for the tediousness of the narrative : others 
relate to defunct controversies. To the latter of 
these classes may be referred Pope's quarrel with 
CoUey Gibber, which loaded the press with vulgaf 



indecency on both sides ; also Bolingbroke's charge 
of treachery broiisfht against Pope in an advertise- 
ment prefixed to a tract published by his lordship in 
1749, five years after the accused could no longer 
answer his accuser. 

We shall not devote any part of our confined 
space to an examination of the faults and weaknessse 
of this eminent man : they have been fully dwelt 
on in works of easy access. Some apology for 
many of them may be found in his bodily infirmities, 
deformed frame, and extreme debility of constitu- 
tion. Pope's person, character, and writings are 
treated of at large by Dr. Warton, in his ' Essay.' 
Ruflfhead's ' Lite of Pope' contains much curious 
and entertaining matter. Dr. Johnson's examina- 
tion of Pope's works is among the most elaborate 
and best pieces of criticism in his ' Lives of the 
Poets.' We cannot better conclude than with his 
description of Pope's appearance, and sum.ming up 
of his poetical character. " The person of Pope is 
well known not to have been formed by the nicest 
model. He has, in his account of the ' Little Club,' 
compared himself to a spider, and by another is 
described as protuberant before and behind. He is 
said to have been beautiful in his infancy : but he 
was of a constitution originally feeble and weak; 
and, as bodies of a tender frame are easily distorted, 
his deformity was probably in part the etfect of his 
application. His stature was so low, that, to bring 
him to a level with common tables, it was necessary 
to raise his seat. But his face was not displeasing, 
and his eyes animated and vivid." ..." It is 
surely superfluous to answer the question that has 
once been asked, whether Pope was a poet, other- 
wise than by asking, in return, if Pope be not a 
poet, where is poetry to be found ? To circumscribe 
poetry by a definition will show the narrowness of 

POPE. 159 

the definer, though a definition which shall exclude 
Pope will not easily be made. Let us look round 
upon the present time, and back upon the past ; let 
us inquire to whom the voice of mankind has decreed 
the wreath of poetry ; let their productions be exa- 
mined, and their claims stated, and the pretensions 
of Pope will be no more disputed. Had he given 
the world only his version, the name of poet must 
have been allowed him; if the writer of the Iliad 
were to class his successors, he would assign a very 
high place to his translator, without requiring any 
other evidence of genius." With respect to the 
translation of the Iliad, it is fair to give Pope the 
benefit of Dr. Johnson's praise. But we are justi- 
fied by the consentient voice of almost all scholars, 
in condemning it as an unfaithful and meretricious 
version, composed in a spirit totally different from 
that of Homer, and bearing no resemblance to his 


Jonathan Swift, by an account in his own hand- 
writing, was the son of an attorney in the city of 
Dublin. He was born in 1667. Some doubt has 
been felt concerning his origin, in consequence of 
his own angry or capricious declaration, when out 
of humour with Ireland, — " I am not of this vile 
country; I am an Englishman;" and Sir William 
Temple has been said to be his real father. This 
piece of scandal, however, is disproved by circum- 
stances of time and place. Swift was placed at 
Trinity College, Dublin, at the age of fourteen. 
Whether through idleness, or contempt of the pre- 
scribed studies, at the end of four years he could 
only obtain his Bachelor's degree speciali gratia; 
a term denoting want of merit. This disgrace so 
affected him, that for the following seven years he 
Studied eight hours a day. In 1688 Sir William 


SWIFT. 161 

Temple, whose lady was related to Swift's mother, 
took him under his protection, and paid the expenses 
of his residence at Oxford for a Master's degree. 
On quitting that University, Swift lived with Temple 
as his domestic companion. To a long illness con- 
tracted during this period in consequence of a sur- 
feit he ascribed that frequently recurring giddiness 
which annoyed him through life, and sent him to 
the grave deprived of reason. 

While under Sir William Temple's roof. Swift 
rendered material assistance in the revision of his 
j)atron's works, and corrected and improved his own 
* Tale of a Tub,' which had been sketched out pre-" 
viously to his quitting Dublin. It was published in 
1704. He never avowed himself its author ; but he 
did not deny it when Archbishop Sharpe and the 
Duchess of Somerset, according to some accounts, 
showed it to Queen Anne, and thereby debarred him 
from a bishopric. From Temple's conversation 
Swift much increased his political knowledge ; and 
his early impressions were naturally in favour of the 
Whigs : but he suspected his patron of neglecting to 
provide for him, from a desire of retaining his ser- 
vices. This produced a quarrel, and the friends 
parted in 1694. Swift took orders, and obtained a 
prebend in the north of Ireland ; but at Temple's 
earnest request he soon resigned that preferment, and 
returned to England. A sincere reconciliation took 
place, and they lived together in the utmost harmony 
till Sir William's death in 1699. Swift, in testimony 
of his esteem, wrote ' The Battle of the Books,' of 
which his friend is the hero ; and Temple by his 
will left him a legacy in money, and the profit as 
well as care of his posthumous works. Swift had 
indulged hopes, not without good reason, of being 
well provided for in the English church, through 
Temple's interest. Failing in these hopes, he ac- 



cepted the post of private secretary and chaplain 
to the Earl of Berkeley, on the appointment of that 
nobleman to be one of the Lords Justices of Ireland. 
By this new patron he seems to have been ill used. 
He was soon displaced from his post, on the plea of 
its unfitness for a clergyman. He was then pro- 
mised the rich deanery of Derry ; but that pre- 
ferment was bestowed on another person, and Swift 
could only procure the livings of Laracor and Rath- 
beggin, which together did not amount to more than 
half the value of the deanery. During his residence 
at Laracor, he performed the duties of a parish 
priest with punctuality and devotion, notwithstanding 
some occasional sallies of no very decorous or well- 
timed humour, which, coupled with the suspicions 
founded on the anonymous ' Tale of a Tub,' fixed on 
him an imputation of insincerity in his Christian 
profession, from which the opinion of posterity seems 
to have absolved him. 

During his incumbency at Laracor, he invited to 
Ireland a lady with whom he became acquainted 
while with Sir William Temple. She was the 
daughter of Temple's steward, whose name was John- 
son. About the 3'ear 1701, at the age of eighteen, 
she went to Ireland, to reside near Swift, accom- 
panied by Mrs. Dingley, a lady fifteen years older 
than herself Miss Johnson was Swift's celebrated 
Stella. Whether Swift's first impulse in giving this 
invitation had a view to marriage, or the cultivation 
of friendship only, is uncertain. His whole conduct 
with respect to women was most mysterious ; appa- 
rently highly capricious, and whatever might be its 
secret motive, utterly unwarrantable. The reason 
assigned by the two ladies for transferring their re- 
sidence to Ireland was, " that the interest of money 
was higher than in England, and provisions cheap." 
Eveiy possible precaution was taken to prevent 

SWIFT. 161 

scandal : Swift and Miss Johnson did not live to- 
gether, nor were they ever known to meet except in 
presence of a third person. Owing to this scrupu- 
lous prudence, the lady's fame, during fifteen years, 
was never questioned, nor was her society avoided 
by the most scrupulous. In 17 16 they were privately 
married, but with no change in their mode of life : 
she never lodged in the Deanery, except during those 
fits of giddiness and approaching mental aberration, 
during which a woman, then of middle age, might 
venture without breach of decorum to nurse an el- 
derly man. 

In 1701 Swift had published his 'Dissensions in 
Athens and Rome ]' his first political work, in behalf 
of King William and his ministers, against the 
violent proceedings of the House of Commons. Ac- 
cording to Lord Orrery, from that year to 1 708 he 
did not write any political pamphlet ; but he made 
frequent journeys to England during the whole of 
Queen Anne's reign. Between 1708 and 17 10 he 
changed his politics, worked hard against the Whigs 
among whom he had been educated, and plunged 
into political controversy, with a view to open the 
road to power for the Tories. The year 1710 pro- 
duced the ' Examiner,' of which he wrote thirty- 
three papers. In that year commenced his ac- 
quaintance with Harley, who introduced him to St. 
John and the rest of the ministers. At this period 
he dined every Saturday at Harley's, with the Lord 
Keeper, Mr. Secretary St. John, and Lord Rivers, 
to the exclusion of all other persons. He may, 
therefore, be considered at this time as the con- 
fidential friend of the ministry, and almost a member 
of their cabinet. The company was afterwards en- 
larged to sixteen, including Swift ; all men of the 
first class in society. He now put forth all his 
strength in support of the Tory party, in pamphlets, 

164 SWIFT. 

periodical papers and political poems. Amidst all 
this political agitation, he wrote down the occur- 
rences of every day, whether consisting of conferences 
\nth ministers, or quarrels with his own ser\'ant, in 
a regular journal to Stella. 

In 1712, ten days before the meeting of parlia- 
ment, he published a pamphlet, entitled ' The Con- 
duct of the Allies,' to facilitate peace, on which the 
stability, almost the personal safety, of the ministers, 
seemed to depend. He professes that this piece cost 
him much pains, and no writer was ever more suc- 
cessful. A sale of eleven thousand copies in two 
months was in those days unprecedented : the Tory 
members in both houses drew their arguments from 
it, and the resolutions of parliament were little more 
than a string of quotations. During that year and 
the next he continued to exert himself with un- 
wearied diligence. In 1713 he carried to the then 
latest date the first sketch of the ' History of the last 
Four Years of Queen Anne.' Lord Bolingbroke, 
when called on for his opinion, was sincere enough 
to speak of it as " a seasonable pamphlet for the 
administration, but a dishonour to just history." 
Swift himself was proud of it, but professed his 
willingness to sacrifice it to his friend's opinion. It 
was, however, published, but with no addition to the 
author's fame. 

The Queen is said to have intended to promote 
him to a bishopric ; but the story is involved in ob- 
scurity. That Archbishop Sharpe had dissuaded 
her from so doing by representing his belief in 
Christianity as questionable, is not ascertained by 
any satisfactory evidence ; but whether that were so 
or not, Johnson's suggestion seems probable, that the 
difficulty arose from those clerical suppoiters of the 
ministry', " who were not yet reconciled to the author 
of the ' Tale of a Tub,' and would not, without much 

SWIFT. 1 65 

discontent and indignation, have borne to see him 
installed in an English cathedral." The deanery 
of St. Patrick, in Dublin, was therefore offered to 
him, and he accepted it. With high pretensions to 
independent equality with the ministers, and a dis- , 
interested support of their measures, it cannot be 
doubted that he viewed this Irish preferment as a 
sentence of exile, and was bitterly disappointed. 
But his temper was too intractable to submit to play 
the part of a courtier ; and it is probable that his 
English friends were not ill pleased to promote him 
to competence and dignity at a distance. His feel- 
ings are characteristically expressed in one of his 
letters : " I use the ministry like dogs, because I ex- 
pect they will use me so. I never knew a ministry 
do anything for those whom they made companions 
of their pleasures; but I care not." 

He had indeed little reason to rejoice at first in 
the land where his lot had fallen : on his arrival in 
Ireland to take possession of his deanery, he found 
the country under the strongest excitement of party 
violence. The populace looked on him as a Jaco- 
bite, and threw stones at him as he walked the 
streets. His chapter received him with reluctance, 
and thwarted him in whatever he proposed. Ordi- 
nary talents and firmness must have sunk under 
such general hostility. But the revolutions of the 
Dean's life were strange ; and he, who began with 
the hatred of the Irish mob, lived to govern them 
with the authority of a despot. 

He had not been in Ireland more than a fortnight 
when he returned to England for the purpose of at- 
tempting, but in vain, a reconciliation between the 
Lords Oxford and Bolingbroke. While in Eng- 
land, he wrote his ' Free Thoughts on the Present 
State of Affairs.' He was probably still watching 
the issues of time or chance ; but the Queen's death 

166 SWIFT. 

sealed his political and clerical doom, and he re- 
turned to Ireland. To the interval between 1714 
and 1720 Lord Orrery ascribes 'Gulliver's Travels.' 
His mind was at this time much engrossed by a re- 
markable circumstance. He had formed an intimacy 
in England with the family of a Dutcli merchant, 
named Vanhomrigh. The eldest daughter, strangely 
enough, became enamoured of Swift's mind,> for it 
could not be of a most homely person, nearly fifty 
years of age. She proposed marnage : this he de- 
clined, and \ATote his poem of ' Cadenus and Va- 
nessa ' on the occasion. On her mother's death, the 
young lady and her sister followed him to Ireland : 
the intercourse was continued, and the proposal re- 
newed on her part. This it was absolutely necessary 
to decline, as the Dean was already married ; but he 
lived with Stella on the same distant footing as before, 
and was reluctant either to inflict pain, or to forego 
his own pleasure, by an avowal of the insuperable 
obstacle. Vanessa continued to receive his visits, 
but so guardedly as not absolutely to forfeit her good 
name. She became, however, -more and more urgent ; 
and peremptorily pressed him to accept or reject her as 
his wife. Failing to obtain a direct answer, she 
addressed a note to Miss Johnson, desiring to know 
whether she were married to him, or not. Stella 
sent this note to Swift, who in a paroxysm of anger 
rode to Vanessa's house, threw a paper containing 
her own note on the table, and quitted her witliout 
a word. This blow she did not sunnve many weeks. 
She died in 1723, having first cancelled a will in 
the Dean's favour. 

Vanessa by \vi\\ ordered her correspondence with 
Swift to be published, as well as ' Cadenus and 
Vanessa,' in which he had proclaimed her excel- 
lence and confessed his love. The letters were siij)- 
pressed; the poem was published. This, whetlier 

SWIFT. 167 

meant as an apology for herself, or as a posthumous 
triumph over her more successful rival, occasioned a 
great shock and distress both to Stella and the Dean. 
It is said that at length, probably as a softening to 
the mortification incident to the public discovery of 
his passion for Vanessa, he desired that Stella might 
be publicly owned as his wife ; but her health was 
rapidly declining. She said, perhaps petulantly, 
" It is too late," and insisted that they should con- 
tinue to live as before. To this the Dean consented, 
and allowed her to dispose of her fortune, by her 
own name, in public charity. She died in 1727. 

By Stella's death Swift's happiness was deeply 
affected. He became by degrees more misanthropic 
and ungovernable in temper ; and more miserly in 
his personal habits, while at the same time he de- 
voted to charity a large part, it is said one-third of 
his income. In 1736 his deafness and giddiness be- 
came alarming, and his mental powers gradually 
declined. In 1741 his friends found it necessary 
that guardians should be appointed over his person 
and estate. In 1742 his reason was entirely over- 
thrown ; he became lethargic, and, except at short 
intervals, speechless. On the 30th of November 
his housekeeper told him that the customary pre- 
parations were making to celebrate his birthday : he 
found words to answer, "It is all folly; they had 
better let it alone." He died the latter end of Oc- 
tober, 1745, in his seventy-eighth year. With the 
exception of some few legacies, he left his fortune, 
amounting to about twelve thousand pounds, to the 
building of an hospital for idiots and lunatics. 

The extent and variety of Swift's writings render 
it necessary to confine our notice to two or three of 
his most curious productions. Of the ' Tale of a ^ 
Tub,' which, being' regarded as an attack upon all 
religion, brought tlown a weight of censure on the 

168 SWIFT. 

author, against which he protested in the preface to 
a later edition, Dr. Johnson says that " it has little 
resemblance to his other pieces. It exhibits a ve- 
hemence and rapidity of mind, a copiousness of 
images, and vivacity of diction, such as he afterwards 
never possessed or never exerted. It is a mode so 
distinct and peculiar, that it must be considered by 
itself; what is true of that is not true of anything 
else which he has written. In his other works is 
found an equable tenor of easy language, which ra- 
ther trickles than flows." 

' Gulliver's Travels' are now probably better known 
to the public than any other of his productions. 
That work is a moral and political romance, exhibiting 
a wonderful specimen of irregular genius. Not only 
are human actions placed in the most unfavourable 
light, but human nature itself is libelled. His way- 
ward temper and his ill-concealed disappointment had 
put him out of conceit with the world ; misanthropy 
had made some inroad into his heart, and, with his 
pen in his hand, lie indulged in the expression of it 
with affected exaggeration. But however offensive 
to good feeling the satire might be, the imagination 
and wit which pervade this extraordinary work will 
always attract some readers, while the simple, cir- 
cumstantial air of truth with which such extrava- 
gant fictions are related is a source of amusement to 
less refined tastes. 

Neither are the ' Drapier's Letters,' written in 
1724, less remarkable, although the temporary na- 
ture of the subject has divested them of all interest, 
except as samples of the powers of his mind and 
the character of his style. Lord Ori'ery calls them 
" those brazen monuments of his fame." A patent 
had been taken out by one Wood for a copper coin- 
age for Ireland, to the amount of one hundred and 
eighty thousand pounds in halfpence and farthings, 

SWIFT. 169 

by which the projector, at least as was alleged by 
the opponents of the ministry, would have gained ex- 
orbitant profit, and the nation would of course have 
incurred proportionate loss. The Dean, in the cha- 
racter of a Drapier, wrote a series of letters, exposing 
the folly and mischief of giving gold and silver for a 
debased coin probably not worth a third of its nomi- 
nal value. He urged the people to refuse this copper 
money ; and the nation acted on the Drapier's advice. 
The government took the alarm at this seditious re- 
sistance to the King's patent, and offered three hun- 
dred pounds reward for the discovery of the author of 
the fourth letter ; but his precautions were so well 
taken, and his popularity so universal, that, though 
known to be the author, the proclamation failed to 
touch him. The popular indignation rose to such a 
height that Wood was compelled to withdraw his 
patent, and the base money was totally suppressed. 
From this time forward the Dean, who at his first 
arrival in Ireland had been most unpopular, pos- 
sessed unlimited influence ; he was consulted on all 
measures of domestic policy; persons of all ranks 
either courted or feared him ; national gratitude was 
expressed by all ranks in their various ways ; the 
Drapier was a toast at every convivial meeting, and 
the sign of his head insured custom to an ale-bouse. 

His letters are remarkable for the pure English of 
their style : there is little of solid information to be 
derived from them ; but the most trifling anecdotes 
of distinguished men find ready acceptation with a 
large class of readers. 

As a poet, ip. the higher sense of the word, we 
rank Swift's cfairas to honour very humbly. But 
he possessed uncommon power of correct, easy, and 
familiar versification ; which, with his racy vein of 
humour, will secure him admirers among those who 
can pardon his offensive grossness. 



Delany, an Irishman to the backbone, gives the 
following character of him : " No man ever deserved 
better of any coimtry than Swift did of his : a steady, 
persevering, inflexible friend ; a wise, a watchful, 
and a faithful counsellor, under many severe trials 
and bitter persecutions, to the manifest hazard both 
of his liberty and fortune." With respect to his 
conversation and private economy some particulars 
may be worth mentioning. His rule never to speak 
more than a minute at a time, and to wait for others 
to take up the conversation, it were well if professed 
talkers would adopt. He excelled in telling a story, 
but told the same too often ; an infirmity which 
grew on him, as it does on others, in advancing 
life. He was churlish to his servants, but in the 
main a kind and generous master. He ^\'as uncere- 
monious and overbearing, sometimes brutal ; but in 
company which he respected, not coarse, although 
his politeness was in a form peculiar to himself. 
He considered wealth as the pledge of independence ; 
but his frugality towards the close of his life 
amounted to avarice. As we have represented some 
features of his character in no very amiable light, we 
will conclude with an anecdote which shows the 
kindly portion of his nature to advantage. In the 
high tide of his influence, he was often rallied by the 
ministers for never coming to them without a Whig 
in his sleeve : whatever might have been his expec- 
tations from the unsolicited gratitude of his party, 
he never pressed his own claims personally ; but he 
often solicited favours from Lord Oxford in behalf of 
Addison, Congreve, Rowe, and Steele. Personal 
merit rather than political principles directed his 
choice of friends. His intimacy with Addison was 
formed when they used to meet at the parties of 
Lord Halifax or Lord Somers, who were leaders of 
the Whigs ; but it continued unabated when the 
Tories had gained the ascendency. 



Swift's works have gone through many editions 
in various forms. The latest and best is that of Sir 
Walter Scott. That man must be considered fortu- 
nate in his biographers, of whom memoirs have been 
handed down, with more or less detail, by Lord 
Orrery, Dr. Delany, Dr. Hawkesvvorth, Dr. Sheri- 
dan, Dr. Johnson, and Sir W. Scott. 

[Gulliver in LilHput, from a Designby Stolh iv.l.] 


The Chancellor Daguesseau is said to haite been 
descended from a noble family of the province of 
Saintonge ; if so, he was careless of his privileges, 
for he never used between the two first letters of his 
name the comma, indicative of noble birth. He 
came however of distinguished parentage ; for his 
grandfather had been First President of the Parlia- 
ment of Bordeaux, and his father was appointed, by 
Colbert, Intendant of the Limousin, and subse- 
quently advanced to the Intendancies of Bordeaux 
and of Languedoc. In the latter government he 
suggested to Colbert the grand idea of uniting the 
Ocean and the Mediterranean by means of that 
mighty work, the Canal of Languedoc. In the 
persecution raised against the Protestants of the 
South of France by Louis XIV. he was distinguished 
by mildness ; and to his honour be it remembered, 
one person only perished under liis jurisdiction. 


Disgusted by the draqonades, and by the revoca- 
tion of the Edict of Nantes, he resigned his Inten- 
dancy, and removed to Paris, where he continued to 
enjoy the royal favour, and to be employed in offices 
of trust ; so that he may be said not only to have 
formed his son's youth, but to have watched over his 

That son, Henry Francois Daguesseau, was born 
at Limoges, November 7, 1668. In 1690 he was 
appointed King's Advocate in the Court of the 
Chatelet, and soon after, at his father's recommenda- 
tion, Advocate-General in the Parliament of Paris. 
On hearing the wisdom of so young a choice brought 
into question, the king observed, that " the father 
was incapable of deceit, even in favour of his son." 
So brilliantly did the young lawyer acquit himself 
in his charge, that Denis Talas, one of the chief of 
the magistracy, expressed the wish, " that he might 
finish as Daguesseau had begun." The law officers 
of that day did not confine themselves to a mere dry 
fulfilment of legal functions ; there was a traditional 
taste, a love of polite and classic literature, a culti- 
vation of poetry and eloquence, on which the jurists 
prided themselves, and which prompted them to 
seize every opportunity of rivalling the ecclesiastical 
orators and polite writers of the age. Thus, at the 
opening of each session, the Avocat- General pro- 
nounced an inaugurative discourse, which treated 
rather of points of high morality than law. Da- 
guesseau acquix-ed great fame from these effusions 
of eloquence. Their titles bespeak what they were : 
they treat of the Independence of the Advocate ; 
the Knoivledge of Man, of Magnanimity ; of the 
Censorship. " The highest professions are the most 
dependent," exclaimed Daguesseau on one of those 
occasions ; " he whom the grandeur of his office 
elevates over other men soon finds that the first 

L 3 


hour of his dignity is the last of his independence." 
These generous sentiments are strongly contrasted 
with the despotism of the government and the general 
servility of the age. 

In 1700 Daguesseau was appointed Procureur- 
General, in which capacity he was obliged to form 
decisions on the gravest questions of state. A 
learned Memoir, drawn up by him in the year 1700, 
to prove that no ecclesiastics, not even cardinals, 
had a right to be exempt from royal jurisdiction, 
shows his mind already imbued with that jealousy of 
Papal supremacy which afterwards distinguished 
him. But his occupations were not confined to 
legal functions, the administration of that day being 
accustomed to have recourse, in all difficult and 
momentous questions, to the wisdom and authority 
of the magistracy. Thus Daguesseau was enabled, 
by directing his attention to the state of the hospitals, 
to remedy the enormous abuses practised in them, 
and to remodel those charitable institutions upon a 
new and philanthropic system. In the terrible 
famine of 1709, he was appointed one of the com- 
mission to inquire into the distresses of the time. 
He was the first to foresee the famine ere it arrived, 
and to recommend the fittest measures for obviating 
the misery which it menaced. 

There existed, at that time, few questions on 
which a French statesman or magistrate found him- 
self in opposition to the sovereign. Constitutional 
political liberty was unknown ; and even freedom 
of conscience had been violated by the persecuting 
edicts of Louis XIV. The magistracy had allowed 
the Protestants to be crushed, awed by the fear of 
being considered favourers of rebellion. The legal 
and the lettered class of French, however they had 
abandoned the great cause of Reform, exaggerated 
as it had been by Calvin, were nevertheless still un- 


prepared to submit to the spiritual despotism of 
Rome. They did not presume to question funda- 
mental doctrines of faith; but they rejected the 
interference of the Pope in matters of ecclesiastical 
government, and their claim to independence was 
sanctioned by the ancient privileges of the Gallican 
Church. And they were resolutely opposed to the 
faithless and insidious doctrines of the Jesuits, who 
sought to make the rule of conscience subordinate 
to the dictation of the priesthood. These two grounds 
of opposition to Rome and to the Jesuits constituted 
the better part of Jansenism. Louis XIV., in his 
later years, commenced a crusade against this 
species of resistance to his royal will ; and, amongst 
other acts of repression, he procured a Bull from 
Rome, called Unigenilus, from its first word, which 
condemned the combined opposition of the Gallican 
clergy and the anti-Jesuit moralist. In order to 
be binding upon the French, it was necessary that it 
should be registered in Parliament. The consent 
of the great legal officers was requisite, and they 
were accordingly summoned before Louis XIV. 
The First President and the Advocate-General had 
already been won over to the court. The inde- 
pendent character of Daguesseau was the only 
obstacle ; and they had hopes that he might be in- 
duced to yield, from the known mildness of his dis- 
position. His parting from his wife on this occasion 
is recorded both by Duclos and St. Simon : " Go," 
said she, as she embraced him ; " when before the 
king, forget wife and children ; sacrifice all but 
honour." Daguesseau acted by the noble counsel, 
and remained immoveable, though threatened by 
his despotic master with the loss of his place. The 
death of Louis XIV., in 1715, soon relieved Dagues- 
seau from the difficulty of his position. 

On the establishment of the Regency, the ad* 


ministration was reorganised on a different plan, 
each department being intrusted to a council. Da- 
guesseau was appointed member of the Council of 
Conscience, being, in fact, the ecclesiastical depart- 
ment. He proposed the immediate banishment of 
the Jesuits from the kingdom ; but this measure he 
was unable to compass. In Februar}% 1717, a va- 
cancy occurred in the office of Chancellor, and the 
Regent immediately sent for Daguesseau, who was 
at mass in the parish church, and refused to come 
until he was twice sent for. When he arrived, the 
Regent exclaimed to the company, " Here is a new 
and veiy worthy Chancellor!" and carrying him 
to the Tuileries in his coach, made the young king 
present him with the box of seals. Daguesseau 
escaped from the crowd to acquaint his brother with 
his good fortune : " I had rather it was you than I," 
exclaimed the latter, continuing to smoke his pipe. 

The Regent, however, did not long remain satis- 
fied with his choice, which had been made from a 
generous impulse of the moment. During the last 
years of Louis the Fourteenth's reign, there had 
been a confusion of parties and of opinions, which 
were almost all united against the bigotry and des- 
potism of the monarch's dotage. The grandee and 
the magistrate displayed equal discontent, and joined 
in common protestations. On the demise of the 
monarch, however, this imion disappeared. The 
grandee hoped to see that aristocratic influence re- 
stoi'ed, which had been suspended since the wars of 
the Fronde. The magistracy did not favour tliis 
idea, being of opinion that the Parliament was the 
fittest council and check to the authority of the crown. 
Daguesseau of course inclined to the magistracy, in 
whose interest he laboured, in conjunction with the 
Due de Noailles, to root out the Jesuits, and deprive 
the church of ultra-montane support. The Due de 


St. Simon was of the opposite opinion. He was the 
partisan of an aristocratic government, and he de- 
fended the church, and even the Jesuits, as useful 
allies. These discordant views led to bickerings in 
the council, St. Simon accused some magistrates 
of mal-practices. The Chancellor sought, more 
than was just, to screen them. He obtained a rule, 
about the same time, that all the members of the 
Great Council, consisting chiefly of magistrates, 
should be rendered noble by their office, another of- 
fence to the nobility of birth. The Regent, at 
first inclined to be neutral, soon leaned to the 
noblesse. The Parliament thwarted him, and 
showed symptoms of an intention to support his rival 
the Duke of Maine, the illegitimate son of Louis XIV. 
The difference between the Regent and the magis- 
tracy was widened into a breach by the scheme of 
Law, and by the advancement of that foreigner to 
influence in political and financial affairs, which had 
hitherto been chiefly in the hands of the magistracy. 
The legists looked upon Law as an intruder, and 
regarded his acts as audacious innovations. Their 
remonstrances accordingly grew louder and louder, 
and their opposition more bold, until the Regent 
began to fear the renewal of the scenes of the Fronde. 
The Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz were then 
published for the first time ; and their perusal, filling 
the public mind, excited it strongly to renew the 
scenes and the struggle which they described. The 
Chancellor's true office, as a minister, had been to 
manage the Parliament, to cajole, to persuade, to 
menace, to repress ; but the task suited neither the 
character nor the principles of Daguesseau, and ac- 
cordingly nothing but censure of him was heard at 
court. He was weak, he was irresolute, and lawyers 
were declared to make very bad statesmen. " They 
might have reproached the Chancellor with inde- 


cision," says Duclos, " but what annoyed them most 
was his virtue." 

On the 26th of January, 1718, the seals were re- 
demanded of him and given to D'Argenson, the 
famous lieutenant of police. Daguesseau was exiled 
to his countiy-house at Fresnes. Whilst in retire- 
ment he occupied his time chiefly in the education of 
his children. His letters to them on the subject of 
their classical and mathematical studies, lately given 
to the public, bear mtness to his simple and literary 
bent of mind. Happy it was for Daguesseau to have 
been removed from the troublesome scene of public life 
during the two years of Law's triumph and the dis- 
grace of the magistracy. When Law's scheme ex- 
ploded amidst the njin and execration of thousands, 
the Regent, not knowing whither to turn for council 
and support, resolved at least to give some indication 
of returning honesty by the recall of Daguesseau, who 
resumed the seals with a facility that was censured 
by many. Law was deprived of the place of Comp- 
troller-General of Finance, though continued in the 
management of the Bank and the India Company. 
In his place certain of the Parliament were admitted 
to the Councils of Finance, so that Daguesseau 
seemed to have had full security against the continu- 
ance of that infamous jobbing by which the public 
credit had been destroyed. He was disappointed. 
The Place Vendome, in front of his abode, being the 
exchange of the day, was crowded by purchasers 
and venders of stock ; until the Chancellor, unable 
to suppress the nuisance, caused it to be removed 

The reconciliation between the government and 
Parliament, produced by Daguesseau's return, did 
not last long ; and Law having sent an edict respect- 
ing the India Company for that body to register, a 
tumult occurred while they were debating on it, in 


which it was said the obnoxious financier was torn 
to pieces. Elated by the news, the Parliament re- 
jected the edict, and hurried from the hail to assure 
themselves of the fate of Law, who was the great 
object of their odium. The Regent took fire at 
this mark of their contempt for his authority, and 
resolved to exile the Parliament to Blois. Dagues- 
seau himself could not excuse their precipitancy; 
he obtained, however, that the place of exile should 
not be Blois, but Pontoise, within a few leagues of 

In addition to these causes of quarrel, another 
matter occurred to widen the breach between the court 
and the Parliament, and to place Daguesseau, who 
stood between them, in a position of still greater 
difhculty. This was the old question of the bull 
Unigenitus, the acceptance of which the prime 
minister Dubois was labouring to procure, as the 
condition on which he was to receive a Cardinal's hat 
from the court of Rome. The Regent, who had at 
first supported the Jansenists, or Parliamentary 
party, was now disgusted at not finding in them the 
gratitude which he had hoped. " Hitherto," said 
he, " I have given every thing to grace, and nothing 
to good works." He leaned, in consequence, to 
the other party ; acd it was resolved to obtain the 
acceptance of the bull, or Constitution, as it was 
called, in the Gi-eat Council. The Great Council 
was a court of magistrates acting somewhat like 
the English Privy Council, or present French 
Conseil d'Etat, and pronouncing judgment on 
points where the crown or government was con- 
cerned. It was the rival of the Parliament, in 
the place of which Dubois proposed to substitute 
it as a high court of judicature ; an idea acted 
upon at a later period of French history. The 
Regent, attended by his court and officers, went 


to the Great Council, and enforced the acceptance of 
the bull. Daguesseau attended as Chancellor, and 
by his presence seemed to countenance this act, 
which forms the great reproach, or blot of his life. 
He is reported on this occasion to have asked a young 
councillor, who was loud in opposition, " Where he 
had found these objections?" " In the pleadings of 
the late Chancellor Daguesseau," was the keen re- 
tort. The conduct of Daguesseau admits, however, 
of excuse. The bull had been already registered, 
under conditions, by the Parliament in the reign of 
Louis XIV.; and the present agitation of the ques- 
tion being rather to satisfy the Pope than make any 
real alteration in the law, Daguesseau was for 
making every concession of form, and some real 
sacrifices, to avoid further extremities or hostilities 
against the Parliament. He hoped, indeed, that re- 
gistration by the Great Council might spare the 
Parliament further trouble on the subject. But the 
Cardinal de Noailles, the head of the Jansenist 
party, continued to protest ; and the Regent, conclud- 
ing that he was incited by the Parliament, re-deter- 
mined to extend the exile of that body from Pontoise 
to Blois. Daguesseau learning this, seeing his con- 
cessions of no effect, and that extreme measures were 
intended against the Parliament, came instantly to 
offer his resignation. The Regent, in answer, bade 
him wait a few days ; and the Cardinal having de- 
sisted from his extreme opposition, at length he was 
satisfied. The Parliament was recalled, and Law 
finally disgraced ; a point gained from Dubeis, no 
doubt, as the price of moderation in the affair of this 

The Regent and Dubois had now both made all 
the use they required of Daguesseau's presence in 
the ministry ; and both were anxieus to get rid of a 
personage so little in harmony with their politics or 


morals. Nevertheless, the Regent felt his obliga- 
tions as well as the respect due to the Chancellor, 
and evinced them in a manner peculiar to himself. 
A person of some rank and influence had proposed 
for the daughter of Daguesseau, allured perhaps by 
the hope of being allied to a minister. The Regent 
learning this, determined to defer the Chancellor's 
disgrace, lest it might prevent the match. When 
Daguesseau's future son-in-law went to ask the 
Regent, as is customary in France, for his sanction 
to the marriage, the latter, while granting it turned 
to those near him, and remarked, in a style usual 
with him, " Here is a gentleman about to turn fish- 
monger at the end of Lent," thus intimating the 
Chancellor's approaching downfall. Daguesseau had 
irritated Dubois by joining the Dukes and Marshals, 
who retired from the council table rather than yield 
precedence to the minister who, i in his new rank of 
Cardinal, pretended to this honour. The seals were 
again taken from him in February, 1722, and he re- 
turned to his estate at Fresnes. 

Again resuming the volume of his private letters, 
as the only history of his years of retirement, we find 
Daguesseau occupied with the progress of his son at 
the bar, and in the functions of Advocate General. 
At the epoch of the Duke of Orleans' death, and the 
accession of the Duke of Bourbon to the ministry, 
there were evident intentions of recalling Daguesseau. 
Recourse was had to his advice in some affairs, but 
he refused to take cognizance of them in a position 
where his word might be misrepresented. * In short, 
he refused to take any part in political affairs without 
at the same time " having the ear of the prince,'* 
thus positively refusing to act any subordinate part. 
These overtures were made at the commencement of 
1725. " What you must avoid of all things," he 
writes to his son, " is to do any thing that might af- 



ford cause of imagining that conditions are asked of 
me as the itrice of my return, or that I engage 
myself in any party.'' The son was, nevertheless, 
anxious for the return of his father to power, and, 
on one occasion, entreats him to open his mansion 
to Mademoiselle de Clermont, sister of the Duke of 
Bourbon, who was travelling near Fresnes ; but 
Daguesseau refused to pay any such expensive com- 
pliments, even to the sister of the minister. 

At length, in August, 1727, not very long after 
the installation of Cardinal Fleury in the office of 
Prime Minister, Daguesseau was recalled. At the 
same time the seals were not given back to him, but 
intrusted to Chauvelin as Lord Keeper. The Par- 
liament wished to make some resistance on this 
point, but Daguesseau, who, as he grew in years, 
seems to have grown also in reverence for the royal 
authorit)', dissuaded and silenced tliem. Even be- 
fore his restoration to power, his advice to his son 
marks strongly the moderation of his views. " Never 
push the government to extremes," writes he ( Let- 
tres Inedites, p. 254). "We should all feel the 
great distance that exists between a king and his 
subjects. Moderation is the most efficacious. If 
the Parliament take too strong a resolution, it will 
but justify the rigour of the government." AVe no 
longer recognise here the bold man who withstood 
the threats of Louis XIV. 

His character for consistency and principle suffered 
in consequence. In 1732 the old quarrel of ultra- 
montanism and Jesuitism was renewed with great ani- 
mosity. Some bishops and ecclesiastics resisted the 
Papal Bull. Those who suffered for their opposition 
appealed to the Parliament, who, as of old, upheld 
liberty of conscience, and, in connexion with it, per- 
sonal freedom. Daguesseau sought to act as mo- 
derator, to calm at once the resistance of the Par- 


liament and the rigour of the court. He was obliged, 
in consequence, to make himself party to some of 
the complaints of the one, and to some acts of per- 
secution on the part of the other. Four of the more 
"violent young counsellors were exiled. The high 
personal character of the Chancellor alone enabled 
him to bear up against the obloquy and reproach 
that were directed against him from both sides ; but 
fortunately the storm was of short duration, for the 
menaces of foreign war drowned the voices of eccle- 
siastical and legal disputants. On the disgrace of 
Chauvelin, in 1737, the seals were returned to Da- 
guesseau, who thus once more reunited in his person 
all the functions and honours of his place. He kept 
them until the year 1750, when, feeling that his in- 
firmities rendered him incapable of performing his 
duty, he resigned. At the King's request, he re- 
tained the titular dignity of Chancellor until his 
death, February 9, 1751. 

It is hard, in a brief and popular memoir, to as- 
sign reasons for the high reputation enjoyed by Da- 
guesseau. His celebrity is rather traditional than 
historical ; it can be appreciated only by those skilled 
in the science and history of French law, by those 
who are acquainted with the great and innumerable 
ameliorations wrought in the system of law and legal 
proceeding by his assiduity and talents. Indeed 
that part of his career, which is necessarily most 
prominent in history, the share which he took in 
politics and administration, was by far the least 
honourable. Renowned as a pleader, his veiy ta- 
lents in this respect are said to have unfitted him 
for judicial functions. " Long habits of the parquet 
(the office of the Attorney-General) had perverted 
his talents. The practice is there to collect, to ex- 
amine, to weigh, and compare the reasons of two 
different parties ; to display, in different balances, 



their various arguments, with all the grace and 
flowers of eloquence, omitting nothing on either side, 
so that no one could perceive to which side the Ad- 
vocate-General leaned. The continual habit of 
this during twenty-four years, joined to the natural 
scruples of a conscientious man, and the ever-start- 
ing points and objections of the learned one, had 
moulded him into a character of incertitude, out of 
which he could never escape. To decide was an 
accouchement with him, so painful was it." From 
this account by St. Simon, we learn how honourable 
and impartial was the office of the public accuser in 
the old French courts ; and that he blended with his 
functions the high impartiality of the judge ; a cha- 
racteristic that the office has since lost, in that court 
at least. It also explains the Chancellor's indecision, 
and his failure as a judge. Whatever were his de- 
fects as a decider of causes, he made amends by his 
talents as a legislator and an organiser of juris- 
prudence. To this, indeed, he gave himself up in 
his latter years almost exclusively, declining to 
meddle more with politics, and devoting himself to 
ameliorate the laws and the forms of procedure. It 
is on this subject that it is difficult to explain his 
merits to the reader. One of the first objects of his 
attention was to separate the functions of the Grand 
Council from those of the Parliament. When he 
resumed the seals in 1 737, he suppressed the Judges 
and Presidents of the former court, to do away with 
its pretensions of usurping the place of the Parlia- 
ment. He at the same time collected and remodelled 
the law of appeals, and regulated the respective 
jurisdiction of different courts ; and we learn from 
Isambert that the Ordonnance issued by him at 
' this period still serves as the rule of law procedure 
before the Court of Cassation and the Council of 
State. The law for repressing forgery formed tlie 


subject of another long Ordonnance. The next 
legal subject of importance that absorbed the atten- 
tion of Daguesseau was that of Entails. This forms 
the subject of a voluminous Ordonnance, bearing 
date August, 1747. One of its clauses nullifies 
entails extending beyond two degrees, not including 
the testator. An Ordonnance, signed May, 1749, 
not enough attended to, establishes a sinking fund 
for paying the debts of the state, and the levy of a 
twentieth to constitute it. The question of Mort- 
main is the subject of an Edict in the same year. 
Wills form another source of legal difficulties which 
Daguesseau sought to simplify or remove. 

The character of Daguesseau has been drawn 
minutely, and at great length, by one of the most 
penetrating of his contemporaries, who sat at the 
council board with him and was his most decided 
political enemy. Nevertheless, we need go no far- 
ther than this very writer, the Due de St. Simon, 
for a record of the Chancellor's virtues and genius : 
" An infinity of talent, assiduity, penetration, know- 
ledge of all kinds, all the gravity of a magistrate, 
piety and innocence of morals, formed the foundation 
of his character. He might be considered incor- 
ruptible (St. Simon makes an exception) ; and with 
all this, mild, good, humane, of ready and agreeable 
access, full of gaiety and poignant pleasantry, with- 
out ever hurting ; temperate polished without pride, 
noble without a stain of avarice. Who would not 
imagine that such a man would have made an ad- 
mirable Chancellor ? Yet in this he disappointed 
the world." His faults, according to the same 
writer, were indecision as a judge, and too high a 
respect for the Parliament and the legal profession, 
to which St. Simon asserts he sacrificed the royal 
authority. In this the aristocratic writer is mis- 
taken. Daguesseau compromised too much for the 


independence of Parliament ; it is among his faults. 
" He was the slave of the most precise purity of 
diction, not perceiving how excess of care rendered 
him obscure and unintelligible. His taste for sci- 
ence added to his other defects. He was fond of 
languages, especially the learned ones, and took in- 
finite delight in physics and mathematics ; nor did 
he even let metaphysics alone : in fact, it was for 
science that he was born. He would, indeed, have 
made an excellent First President, Chief Judge of 
Parliament ; but he would have been best placed of 
all at the head of the literature of the country, of 
the Academies, the Observatory, the Royal College, 
the Libraries; there his tediousness would have in- 
commoded no one, &c." In short, the Duke, in his 
scheme of restoring the aristocracy to exclusive in- 
fluence, found the Chancellor in his way, and wished 
him out of it. He tells us that Daguesseau was of 
middling stature, with a full and agreeable coun- 
tenance, even to the last expressive of wisdom and 
of wit. 


George Frederic Handel, whom we will venture 
to call the greatest of musicians, considering the 
state in which he found his art, and the means at 
his command, was born at Halle, in the Duchy of 
Magdeburg, February 24, 1684. He was intended, 
almost from his cradle, for the profession of the 
civil law ; but at the early age of seven, he mani- 
fested so uncontrollable an inclination, and so decided 
a talent for the study of music, that his father, an 
eminent physician, wisely consented to change his 
destination, and suffered him to continue under the 
direction of a master of those studies, which he had 
been secretly pursuing with no other guide than his 
own genius. 

Friedrich Zachau, organist of the cathedral church 

188 HANDEL. 

of Halle, was the first and indeed the chief instructor 
of Handel. He discharged the duties of his office 
so well, that his pupil, when not nine years old, had 
become competent to officiate for his teacher, and 
had composed, it is said, many motets for the service 
of the church. A set of sonatas, written by him 
when only ten years old, was in the possession of 
George III., and probably forms part of the musical 
library of our present sovereign. 

In 1703 Handel went to Hamburg, where the 
opera was then flourishing under the direction of 
Reinhard Keiser, a master of deserved celebrity, 
but whose gaiety and expensive habits often com- 
pelled him to absent himself from the theatre. On 
one of these occasions Handel was appointed to fill 
his place as conductor. This preference of a junior 
roused the jealousy of a fellow-performer, named 
Mattheson, to such a degree, that a rencontre took 
place between the rivals in the street ; and Handel 
was saved from a sword-thrust, which probably would 
have taken fatal effect, only by the interposition of 
a music-score which he carried buttoned up under 
his coat. Till this time he had occupied but a very 
subordinate situation in the orchestra, that of second 
ripieno violin ; for from the period of his father's 
death he had depended wholly on his own exertions, 
nobly determining not to diminish his mother's 
rather straitened income by any demands on her 
for pecuniary assistance. But now an opportunity 
for making known his powers was arrived ; for the 
continued absence of the conductor Keiser from his 
post induced the manager to employ Handel in set- 
ting to music a drama called Almeria. So great 
was the success of this piece, that it was performed 
thirty nights without interruption. The year follow- 
ing he composed Florinda ; and soon after, Nerone, 
both of which were received in as favourable a 

HANDEL. - 169 

manner as his first dramatic effort ; but not one of 
these is to be found in the collection formed by 
George III., and they seem quite unknown to all 
writers on music except by their titles. 

The success of his operas at Hamburg produced 
a sum which enabled him to A'isit Italy. Florence 
was the first city in which he made any stay. He 
was thei'e received in the kindest manner by the 
Grand Duke Giovanni Gaston de Medicis, and 
produced the opera of Rodrigo in 1709, for which 
he was presented with a hundred sequins, and a 
ser\nce of plate. Thence he proceeded to Venice, 
where he brought out Agrippina, which was re- 
ceived with acclamation, and performed twenty- seven 
nights successively. It seems that horns and other 
wind-instruments were in this opera first used in 
Italy as accompaniments to the voice. Here the 
charms of his music made an impression on the 
famous beauty and singer, Signora Vittoria, a lady 
particularly distinguished by the Grand Duke ; but 
in this, as in every instance of a similar kind, 
Handel showed no disposition to avail himself of 
any partialities exhibited in his favour. His thoughts 
were nearly all absorbed by his art, and it is but 
just to conclude that he was also influenced by those 
sentiments of moral propriety which so distinctly 
marked his conduct through life. It is to be ad- 
mitted, however, that he was too much inclined to 
indulge in the pleasures of the table. 

On visiting Rome he was hospitably and kindly 
entertained by the Cardinal Ottoboni, a person of 
the most refined taste and princely magnificence. 
Besides his splendid collection of pictures and statues, 
he possessed a library of music of great extent, and 
kept in his service an excellent band of performers, 
which was under the direction of the celebrated 
Corelli. At one of the parties made by the Car- 

M 3 

190 HANDEL. 

dinal, Handel produced the overture to II Trionfo 
del Tempo, which was attempted by the band so 
unsuccessfully, that the composer, in his hasty man- 
ner, snatched the violin from Corelli, and played the 
most difficult passap^es with his own hand. The 
Italian, who was all modesty and meekness, in- 
genuously confessed that he did not understand the 
kind of music ; and, when Handel still appeared im- 
patient, only said, " Ma, caro Sassonej questa musica 
e nel stilo Francese, di ch'io non m'intendo" — (" But, 
my dear Saxon, this music is in the French style, 
which I do not understand''). And so far Corelli 
was perfectly right ; Handel's overtures are formed 
after the model of Lully, though, it is hardly neces- 
sary to add, he improved what he imitated. This 
anecdote indicates the vast superiority in point of 
execution possessed by the moderns. A learner of 
two years' standing would now play the violin part 
of any of Handel's overtures at first sight, without 
a fault. 

At Rome Handel composed his Trionfo del 
Tempo, the words of which were written for him by 
the Cardinal Pamphilii, and a kind of mystery, or 
oratorio, La Resurrezione. The former he after- 
M-ards brought out in London, with English words 
by Dr. Morell, under the title of the Triumph of 
Time and Truth. From Rome he went to Naples, 
where he was treated with every mark of distinction. 
But he now resolved, notwithstanding the many at- 
tempts made to keep him in Italy, to return to Ger- 
many ; and in 1710 reached Hanover, where he 
found a generous patron in the Elector, who subse- 
quently ascended the English throne as George I. 
Here he met the learned composer, Steffani, who 
having arrived at a time of life when retirement 
becomes desirable, resigned his office of Maestro di 
Capella to the Elector, and Handel was appointed 

HANDEL. 191 

his successor, with a salary of 1500 crowns, upon 
condition that he would return to the court of 
Hanover at the termination of his travels. 

Towards the end of 1710 Handel arrived in 
London. He was soon introduced at court, and 
honoured with marks of Queen Anne's favour. 
Aaron Hill was then manager of the Italian opera, 
and immediately sketched a drama from Tasso's 
Jerusalem, which Rossi worked into an opera under 
the name of Rinaldo, and Handel set it to music. 
This was brought out in March, 1711; and it is 
stated in the preface that it was composed in a 
fortnight, — a strong recommendation of a work to 
those who delight in the wonderful rather than in 
the excellent : but in fact there is nothing in this 
which could have put the composer to much expense 
either of time or thought. Handel undoubtedly wrote 
better operas than any of his contemporaries or pre- 
decessors ; but he was controlled by the habits and 
taste of the day, and knew by experience that two 
or three good pieces were as much as the fashionable 
frequenters of the Italian theatre would listen to, in 
his time. 

At the close of 1711 he returned to Hanover, but 
revisited London late in 1712 ; and shortly after 
was selected, not without many murmurs from Eng- 
lish musicians, to compose a Te Deum and Jubilate 
on occasion of the peace of Utrecht. The Queen 
settled on him a pension of two hundred pounds as 
the reward of his labour, — and as he was solicited 
to write again for the Italian stage, he never thought 
of returning to his engagement at Hanover, till the 
accession of the Elector to the British throne re- 
minded him of his neglect of his royal employer and 
patron. On the arrival of George I. in London, 
Handel wanted the courage to present himself at 
court ; but his friend, Baron Kilmansegge, had the 

192 HANDEL. 

address to get him restored to royal favour. The 
pleasing Water- Music, performed during an ex- 
cursion made up the river by the King, was the 
means by which the German baron brought about 
the reconciliation ; and this was accompanied by an 
addition of two hundred pounds to the pension 
granted by Queen Anne. 

From the year 1715 to 1720 Handel composed 
only three operas. The three first years of this 
period he passed at the Earl of Burlington's, where 
he was constantly in the habit of meeting Pope, who, 
though devoid of any taste for music, always spoke 
and wrote in a flattering manner of the German 
composer. The other two years he devoted to the 
Duke of Chandos, Pope's Timon ; and at Cannons, 
the Duke's seat, he produced many of his anthems, 
which must be classed among the finest of his works, 
together with the greater number of his hautbois 
, concertos, sonatas, lessons, and organ fugues. 

A project was now formed by several of the Eng- 
lish nobility for erecting the Italian theatre into an 
Academy of Music, and Handel was chosen as 
manager, with a condition that he should supply a 
certain number of operas. In pursuance of this, he 
went to Dresden to engage singers, and brought 
back with him several of great celebrity, Senesino 
among the number. His first opera under the new 
system was Radamisto, the success of which was 
astonishing. But there were at that time two 
Italian composers in London, Bononcini and Attilio, 
who till then had been attached to the opera-house, 
and were not without powerful supporters. These 
persons did not passively notice the ascendency of 
Handel, and the insignificance into which they were 
in danger of falling ; they persuaded several weak 
and some factious people of noble rank to espouse 
their cause, and to oppose the German intruder, as 

HANDEL. ' 1^3 

they called the new manager. Hence arose those 
feuds to which Swift has given immortality by his 
well-known epigram ; and hence may be traced 
Handel's retirement from a scene of cabal, persecu- 
tion, and loss. The final result of this, however, 
was fortunate, for it led to the production of his 
greatest works, his oratorios, which not only amply 
compensated him for all the injury which his fortune 
sustained in this contest, but raised him to a height 
of fame which he could never have gained by his 
Italian operas. 

The two contending parties, wishing to appear 
reasonable, proposed something like terms of ac- 
commodation : these were, that an opera in three 
acts should be composed by the three rivals, one 
act by each, and that he who best succeeded should 
for ever after take the precedence. The drama 
chosen was Muzio Scevola, of which Bononcini set 
the first act, Handel the second, and Attilio the 
third. Handel's " won the cause," and Bononcini's 
was pronounced the next in merit. But, strange to 
say, though each no doubt strained his ability to the 
utmost in this struggle, not a single piece in the 
whole opera is known in the present day, or is, per- 
haps, to be found, except in the libraries of curious 

This victory left Handel master of the field for 
some years, and the Academy prospered. During 
this period he brought out aboiit fifteen of his best 
operas. But the genius of discord must always have 
a seat in the temple of harmony, and a dispute 
between the German manager and the Italian so- 
prano, Senesino, renewed former quarrels, broke up 
the Academy, materially damaged the fortune of the 
great composer, and was the cause of infinite vexa- 
tion to him during much of his future life. 

. Dr. Arbuthi^ot, always a staunch friend of Handel, 

194 HANDEL. 

now became his champion, and his ridicule had 
more weight with the sensible portion of the public 
than the fiatile arguments, if they deserve the name, 
advanced by the noble supporters of Senesino. But 
fashion and prejudice were, as usual, too strong for 
reason : a rival opera-house was opened in Lincoln's 
Inn Fields, and after having composed several new 
operas, comprising some of the best, and having 
sacrificed nearly the whole of his property and injured 
his health, in a spirited attempt to support the cause 
of the lyric stage against the presumption of singers, 
and the folly of their abettors, Handel was at last 
compelled to terminate his ineifectual labours, and 
stop his ruinous expenses, by abandoning the contest 
and the Italian opera together. 

The sacred musical drama, or oratorio, was ulti- 
mately destined to repair his all but ruined fortune, 
and to establish his fame beyond the reach of cavil, 
and for ever. Esther, the words of which it is said 
were the joint production of Pope and Arbuthnot, 
was composed for the Duke of Chandos in 1720. 
In 1732 it was performed ten nights at the Hay- 
market, or King's Theatre. Deborah was produced 
in 1733, and in the same year Athalia was brought 
out at Oxford. These three oratorios were per- 
formed at Covent Garden, in the Lent of 1734. 
Acis and Galatea and Alexander's Feast were 
brought out in 1735; Israel in Egypt in 1738; 
L'AUegro ed il Penseroso in 1739. Saul was pro- 
duced at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1740. 
But up to this period his oratorios failed to re- 
imburse him for the expenses incurred ; and even the 
Messiah, that sublime and matchless work, was, as 
Dr. Burney, Sir John Hawkins, and Handel's first 
biographer, Mr. Mainwaring, all agree in stating, 
not only ill attended, but ill received, when first given 
to the public, in the capital of the empire, in 1741. 

HANDEL. 195 

Such miscarriages, and a severe fit of illness, the 
supposed consequence of them, determined him to 
try his oratorios in the sister kingdom, where he 
hoped to be out of the reach of prejudice, envy, and 
hostility. Dublin was at that time noted for the 
gaiety and splendour of its court, and the opulence 
and spirit of its principal inhabitants. Handel 
therefore judged wisely in appealing to such a peo- 
ple. Pope in his Dunciad alludes to this part oif" his 
history, introducing a poor phantom as representative 
of the Italian opera, who thus instructs Dulness : — 

Hut soon, ah soon, rebellion will commence. 
If Music meanly borrows aid from sense : 
Strong in new arms, lol giant Handel stands, 
Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands: 
To stir, to rouse, to shake the soul he comes, 
And Jove's own thunders follow Mars's drums. 
Arrest him, empress, or you sleep no more. — 
Slie heard^and drove him to ih' Hibernian shore. 

" On his arrival in Dublin," we are told by Dr. 
Bumey, in his Commemoration of Handel, " he, 
with equal judgment and humanity, began by per- 
forming the Messiah for the benefit of the city prison. 
This act of generosity and benevolence met with 
universal approbation, as well as his music, which 
was admirably performed.'' He remained in Ireland 
about nine months, where his finances began to mend, 
an earnest, as it were, of the more faA'^ourable recep- 
tion which he experienced on returning to London in 
1742. He then recommenced his oratorios at Co- 
vent Garden : Sampson was the first performed. 
And now fortune seemed to wait on all his under- 
takings : and he took the tide at the flood. His 
last oratorio became most popular, and the Messiah 
was now received with universal admiration and ap- 
plause. Dr. Burney remarks, " From that time to 
the present, this great work has been heard in all 
parts of the kingdom with increasing reverence and 
delight : it has ted the hungry, clothed the naked, 

196 HANDEL. 

fostered the orphan," and, he might have added, 
healed the sick. Influenced by the most disinte- 
rested motives of humanity, Handel resolved to per- 
form his Messiah annually for the benefit of the 
Foundling Hospital, and, under his own direction 
and that of his successors, it added to the funds of 
that charity alone the sum of £10,300. How much 
it has produced to other benevolent institutions, it is 
impossible to calculate ; the amount must be enor- 

He continued his oratorios till almost the moment 
of his death, and derived considerable pecuniary ad- 
vantage from them, though a considerable portion of 
the nobility persevered in their opposition to him. 
George 11., however, was his steady patron, and 
constantly attended his performances, when they 
Avere abandoned by most of the court. 

In the close of life, Handel had the misfortune to 
lose his sight, from an attack of gutta serena, in 
1751. This evil for a time plunged him into deep 
despondency ; but when the event was no longer 
doubtful, an earnest and sincere sense of religion 
enabled him to bear his affliction with fortitude, and 
he not only continued to perform, but even to compose. 
For this purpose he employed for his amanuensis 
Mr. John Christian Smith, a good musician, who 
fiirnished materials for a life of his employer and 
friend, and succeeded him in the management of the 
oratorios. "To see him, however," Dr. Burney 
feelingly observes, " led to the organ after this cala- 
mity, at upwards of seventy years of age, and then 
conducted towards the audience to make his accus- 
tomed obeisance, was a sight so truly afflicting to 
persons of sensibility, as greatly diminished their 
pleasure in hearing him perform." 

His last appearance in public was on the 6th of 
April, 1759. He died that day week, on Good Fri- 

HANDEL. 197 

day ; thus realising a hope which he expressed a very 
few days before his decease, when aware that his last 
hours were approaching. He was buried in West- 
minster Abbey : the Dean, Dr. Pearce, Bishop of 
Rochester, assisted by all the officers of the choir, 
performed the ceremony. A fine monument, exe- 
cuted by Roubiliac, is placed in the Poet's Corner, 
above the spot where his mortal remains are depo- 
sited; but a still more honourable tribute to his 
memory was paid in the year 1184, by the perform- 
ances which took place under the roof which covers 
his dust. A century having then elapsed from the 
time of his birth, it was proposed that a Commemo- 
ration of Handel should take place. The manage- 
ment of it was intrusted to the directors of the an- 
cient concert, and eight of the most distinguished 
members of the musical profession. The King, 
George HI., zealously patronised the undertaking, 
and nearly all the upper classes of the kingdom se- 
conded the royal views. A vocal and instrumental 
band of 525 persons was collected from all parts, 
for the purpose of performing in a manner never be- 
fore even imagined, the choicest works of the master. 
The great aisle in Westminster Abbey was fitted up 
for the occasion with boxes for the Royal Family, 
the Directors, the Bench of Bishops, and the Dean 
and Prebendaries of the Church; galleries were 
erected on each side, and a grand orchestra was built 
over the great west door, extending from within a 
few feet of the ground, to nearly half-way up the 
great window. There were four morning perform- 
ances in the church : the tickets of admission were 
one guinea each ; and the gross receipts (including 
an evening concert at the Pantheon) amounted to 
£12,736. The disbursements rather exceeded 
£6,000, and the profits were given to the Society for 

198 HANDEL. 

Decayed Musicians and the Westminster Hospital ; 
£6000 to the former, and ^1000, to the latter. 
Such was the success of this great enterprise, that 
similar performances, increasing each year in magni- 
tude, took place annually till the period of the French 
Revolution, when the state of public affairs did not 
encourage their longer continuance. 

As a composer, Handel was great in all styles — 
from the familiar and airy to the grand and sublime. 
His instinctive taste for melody, and the high value 
he set on it, are obvious in all his works ; but he felt 
no less strongly the charms of harmony, in fulness 
and richness of which he far surpassed even the 
greatest musicians who preceded him ; and had he 
been able to employ the variety of instruments now 
in use, some of which have been invented since his 
death, and to command that orchestral talent, which 
probably has had some share in stimulating the in- 
ventive faculty of modern composers, it is reasonable 
to suppose that the field of his conceptions would 
have expanded with the means at his command. 
Unrivalled in sublimity, he might then have antici- 
pated the variety and brilliance of later masters. 

Generally speaking, Handel set his words with 
deep feeling and strong sense. Now and then he 
certainly betrayed a wish to imitate by sounds what 
sounds are incapable of imitating ; and occasionally 
attempted to express the meaning of an isolated word, 
without due reference to the context. And some- 
times, though not often, his want of a complete 
knowledge of our language led him into errors of 
accentuation. But these defects, though great in 
little men, dwindle almost to nothing" in this " giant 
of the art:" and every competent judge, who con- 
templates the grandeur, beauty, science, variety, and 
number of Handel's productions, will feel for him 



that admiration which Haydn, and still more Mozart, 
was proud to avow, and be ready to exclaim in the 
words of Beethoven, " Handel is the unequalled 
master of all masters ! Go, turn to him, and learn, 
with such scanty means, how to produce such 
effects !" 


The parents of this eminent discoverer in optics, to 
wh'om we are chiefly indebted for the high perfection 
of our telescopes, were French Protestants resident 
in Normandy, whence they were driven by the revo- 
cation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. With many 
others of their class, they took up their residence in 
Spitalfields, where John Dollond, the subject of this 
memoir*, was born June 10, 1706. It has been 
supposed, and among others by Lalande, that the 
name is not French : if we were to hazard a con- 
jecture, we should say tl)at it might have been an 
English corruption of D^Hollande. While yet very 
young, John Dollond lost his father, and he was 
obliged to gain his livelihood by the loom, though 
his natural disposition led him to devote all his 

• For the details of this life we are mostly indebted to the Memoir of 
Di. Kelly, his son-in-law, from which all the existing accounts of Dolloud 
are taken. This book has become very scarce, and we arc indebted lor 
the opportunity of perusing it to the kmduess of U . Dollond, Esq. 


leisure hours to mathematics and natural philo- 
sophy. Notwithstanding the cares incumbent upon 
the father of a family (for he married early) he con- 
trived to find time, not only for the above-mentioned 
pursuits, but for anatomy, classical literature, and 
divinity. He continued his quiet course of life until 
his son, Peter Dollond, was of age to join him in his 
trade of silk-weaving, and they carried on that busi- 
ness together for several years. The son, however, 
who was also of a scientific turn, and who had pro- 
fited by his father's instructions, quitted the silk 
trade to commence business as an optician. He 
was tolerably successful, and after some years his 
father joined him, in 1752. 

The first improvement made by the elder Dollond 
in the telescope was the addition of another glass to 
the eye-piece, making the whole number of glasses 
in the instrument (the object-glass included) six in- 
stead of five. This he communicated to the Royal 
Society in 1753, through his friend James Short, 
well known as an optician and astronomer, who also 
communicated all his succeeding papers. By his 
new construction an increase in the field of view 
was procured, without any corresponding augmenta- 
tion of the unavoidable defects of the instrument. 
In May, 1753, Dollond communicated to the Royal 
Society his improvement of the micrometer. In 
1747 Bouguer proposed to measure the distance of 
two very near objects (the opposite edges of a planet, 
for example) by viewing them through a conical 
telescope, the larger end of which had two object- 
glasses placed side by side, the eye-glass being com- 
mon to both. The distance of the objects was de- 
termined by observing how far it was necessary to 
separate the centres of the object-glasses, in order 
that the centre of each might show an image of one 
of the objects. Mr. Dollond's improvement consisted 


in making use of the same object-glass, divided into 
two semicircular halves sliding on one another, as 
represented in the diagi-ams in page 209 ; the first of 
which is an oblique perspective view of the divided 
glass, and the second a side-view of the same, in 
such a position, that the images of the stars A and 
B coincide at C. 

If the whole of an object-glass were darkened, 
except one small portion, that portion would form 
images similarly situated to those formed by the 
whole glass, but less illuminated. Each half of the 
object-glass, when separated from the other, forms 
an image of every object in the field ; and the two 
images of the same object coincide in one of double 
brightness, when the halves are brought together so 
as to restore the original form. By placing the 
divided diameter in the line of two near objects, A 
and B, whose distance is to be measured, and sliding 
the glasses until the image of one fonned by one 
half comes exactly into contact with the image of 
the other formed by the other half, the angular dis- 
tance of the two objects may be calculated, from 
observation of the distance between the centres of 
the two halves. This last distance is measured on 
a scale attached to the instrument ; and when found, 
is the base of the triangle, the vertex of which is at 
C, and the equal sides of ^A'hich are the focal lengths 
of the glasses. This micrometer DoUond preferred 
to apply to the reflecting telescope : his son after- 
wards adapted it to the refracting telescope ; and it 
is now, under the name of the divided object-glass 
micro?neter, one of the most useful instruments for 
measuring small angles. 

But the fame of Dollond principally rests upon 
his invention of achromatic, or colourless telescopes, 
in which the surrounding fringe of colours was de- 
stroyed, which had rendered indistinct the images 


formed In all refracting telescopes previously con- 
structed. He was led to this practical result by the 
discovery of a principle in optics, that the dispersion 
of light in passing through a refracting medium, 
that is, the greater or less length through which the 
coloured spectrum is scattered, is not in proportion 
to the refraction, or angle through which the rays 
are bent out of their course. Newton asserted that 
he had found by experiments, made with water and 
glass, that if a ray of light be subjected to several 
refractions, some of which correct the rest, so that it 
emerges parallel to its first direction, the dispersion 
into colours will also be corrected, so that the light 
will be restored to whiteness. This is not generally 
true : it is true if one substance only be employed, or 
several which have the same, or nearly the same 
dispersive power*. Mr. Peter Dollond afterwards 
satisfactorily explained the reason of Newton's mis- 
take, by performing the same experiment with Vene- 
tian glass, which, in the time of the latter, was com- 
monly used in England ; from which he found that 
the fact stated by Newton was time, as far as re- 
garded that sort of glass. Had Newton used flint 
glass, he would have discovered that dispersion and 
refraction are not necessarily corrected together : he 
would then have been led to the difference between 
refractive and dispersive power, and would have 
concluded from his first experiment that Venetian 
glass and water have their dispersive powers very 
nearly equal. As it was, he inferred that the re- 
fracting telescope could never be entirely divested of 
colour, without entirely destroying the refraction, 
that is, rendering the instrument no telescope at all ; 
and, the experiment being granted, the conclusion 
was inevitable. It is well known that he accord- 

• See Penny Cyclopocdia, article Achromatic, for tliis and other terms 
employed in this Life, 


ingly turned his attention entirely to the reflecting 

In 1747 Euler, struck by the fact that the human 
eye is an achromatic combination of lenses, or nearly 
so^ imagined that it might be possible to destroy 
colour by employing compound object-glasses, such 
as two lenses with an intermediate space filled with 
water. In a memoir addressed to the Academy of 
Berlin, he explained his method of constructing 
such achromatic glasses, and proposed a new law of 
refrangibility, different from that of Newton. He 
could not, however, succeed in procuring a successful 
result in practice. Dollond, impressed with the idea 
that Newton's experiment was conclusive, objected 
to Euler's process in a letter to Mr. Short ; which 
the latter persuaded the author to communicate, first 
to Euler, and then, with his answer, to the Royal 
Society. Assuming Newton's law, Dollond shows 
that Euler's method would destroy all refraction as 
well as dispersion. The latter replies, that it is suf- 
ficient for his purpose that Newton's law should be 
nearly true ; that the theory propounded by himself 
does not differ much from it ; and that the structure 
of the eye convinces him of the possibility of an 
achromatic combination. Neither party contested 
the general truth of Newton's conclusion. 

A new party to the discussion appeared in the 
field in the person of M. Klingenstierna, a Swedish 
astronomer, who advanced some mathematical rea- 
soning against the law of Newton, and some suspi- 
cions as to the correctness of his experiment. The 
latter being thus formally attacked, Mr. Dollond 
determined to repeat it, with a view of settling the 
question, and his result was communicated to the 
Royal Society in 1758. By placing a prism of flint 
glass inside one of water, confined by glass planes, 
so that the refractions from the two prisms should 


be in contrary directions, he found that when their 
angles were so adjusted that tlie refraction of one 
should entirely destroy that of the other, the colour 
was far from being destroyed ; " for the object, 
though not at all refracted, was yet as much infested 
with prismatic colours, as if it had been seen through 
a glass wedge only, whose refracting angle was near 
thirty degrees." It was thus proved that the cor- 
rection of refraction, and the correction of dispersion, 
are not necessarily consequent the one on the other. 
Previously to communicating this result, Dollond 
had, in 1757, applied it to the construction of achro- 
matic glasses, consisting of spherical lenses with 
water between them : but finding that the images, 
though free from colour, were not very distinct, he 
tried combinations of different kinds of glass, and 
-succeeded at last in forming the achromatic object- 
glass now used, consisting of a convex lens of crown, 
and a concave of flint glass. His son afterwards, 
in 1765, constructed the triple object-glass, having 
a double concave lens of flint glass in the middle of 
two double convex lenses of crown glass. The right 
of Dollond to the invention has been attacked by 
various foreign writers, but the point seems to have 
been decided in his favour by the general consent of 
later times. His conduct certainly appears more 
philosophical than that of either of his opponents. 
So long as he believed that Newton's experiment 
was correct, he held fast by it, not allowing any 
mathematical reasoning to shake his belief, and in 
this belief, and in this respect he was more consistent 
than Euler, who seems to have thought that an 
achromatic combination might be made out of the 
joint belief of an experiment, and of an hypothesis 
utterly at variance with it. And the manner in 
which the distinguished philosopher just mentioned 
received the news of DoUond's invention appears 



singular, considering the side which each had taken 
in the previous discussion. Euler, who had asserted 
the possibility of an achromatic lens, against Dol- 
lond, who appeared to doubt it, says, " I am not 
ashamed frankly to avow that the first accounts 
which were published of it appeared so suspicious, 
and even so contrary to the best established prin- 
ciples, that I could not prevail upon myself to give 
credit to them." Dollond was the first who actually 
resorted to experiment, and he thus became the 
discoverer of a remarkable law of optics; while his 
tact in the application of his principles, and the 
selection of his materials, is worthy of admiration. 
The reputation of Dollond rests upon the discovery 
of the law, and its application to the case in point ; 
for it has since been proved that he was not absolutely 
the first who had constructed an achromatic lens. 
On the occasion of an action brought for the in- 
vasion of the patent, the defendant proved that about 
the year 1750 Dr. Hall, an Essex gentleman, was 
in the possession of a secret for constructing achro- 
matic telescopes of twenty inches focal length ; and 
a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1790 has 
advanced his claim with considerable circumstantial 
detail. It is difficult to get any account of that 
trial, as it is not reported in any of the books. At 
least we presume so, from not finding any reference 
to it either in the works of Godson or Davis on 
Patents, though the case is frequently mentioned; 
or in H. Blackstone's report of Boulton and Watt v. 
Bull, in which DoUond's case forms a prominent 
feature of the argument. But, from the words of 
Judge Buller in the case just cited, it is difficult to 
suppose that the account given by Lalande (Mon- 
tucLa, Histoire des Mathematiques, vol, iii. p. 448, 
note) can be correct, Lalande asserts that it was 
proved that Dollond received the invention from a 


workman who had been employed by Dr. Hall, 
and that the latter had shown it to many persons. 
Judge Buller says, " The objection to DoUond's 
patent was, that he was the inventor of the new 
method of making object-glasses, but that Dr. Hall 
had made the same discovery before him. But it 
was holden that as Dr. Hall had confined it to his 
closet, and the public were not acquainted with it, 
DoUond was to be considered as the inventor." 
The circumstances connected with the discovery, 
particularly the previous investigation of the phe- 
nomenon on which the result depends, independently 
of the words of Judge Buller, quoted in italics, 
appear to us to render the anonymous account very 
improbable : nor, as far as we know, is there any 
other authority for it. That Dr. Hall did construct 
achromatic telescopes is pretty certain ; but we are 
entirely in the dark as to whether he did it on 
principle, or whether he could even construct more 
than one sort of lens : and the assertion that he, or 
any one instructed by him, had communicated with 
DoUond, is unsupported by any thing worthy the 
name of evidence. We may add, that the accounts 
of this discovery, written by Dollond himself, possess 
a clearness and power of illustration, which can 
result only from long and minute attention to the 
subject under consideration. 

After this great discovery, for which he received 
the Copley medal of the Royal Society, Mr. Dollond 
devoted himself to the improvement of the achro- 
matic telescopes, in conjunction with his other pur- 
suits. We are informed by G. Dollond, Esq., that 
his grandfather, at the latter end of his life, was en- 
gaged in calculating almanacs for various parts of 
the world ; one of which, for the meridian of Bar- 
badoes, and the year 1761, is now in his possession. 

Mr. Dollond was elected a fellow of the Royal 



Society in 1761. In the same year, November 30, 
he was struck by apoplexy, while attentively en- 
gaged in reading Clairaut's Theory of the Moon, 
which had then just appeared. He died in a few 
hours afterwards, in the fifty- sixth year of his age. 
His son Peter Dollond, already mentioned, continued 
the business in partnership with a younger brother ; 
and it is now most ably carried on by his daughter's 
son, who has, by permission, assumed the name of 

The following extract is from the memoir ^vritte^ 
by Dr. Kelly, in which we find nothing to regret, 
except that so few traits of character are related in 
it. Those who write memoirs of remarkable men 
from personal knowledge should remember that 
details of their habits and conversation will be much 
more valuable to posterity, than disquisitions upon 
their scientific labours and discussions, which, coming 
from the pens of friends or relations, will always be 
looked upon as ex parte statements. Had the learned 
author borne this in mind, we should have been able 
to give a better personal account of Dollond than the 
following ; which is absolutely the only information 
relative to his private cliaracter which we can now 
obtain. " He was now content ^^'ith private devo- 
tion, as he was always an advocate for social wor- 
ship; and with his family regularly attended the 
public service of the French Protestant church, and 
occasionally heard Benson and Lardner, whom he 
respected as men, and admired as preachers. In his 
appearance he was grave, and the strong lines of 
his face were marked with deep thought and reflec- 
tion ; but in his intercourse with his family and 
friends he was cheerful and affectionate ; and his 
language and sentiments are distinctly recollected as 
always making a strong impression on the minds of 
those with whom he conversed. His memory was 



extraordinarily retentive, and amidst the variety of 
his reading he could recollect and quote the most 
important passages of every book which he had at 
any time perused." 

N 3 


Ok all men who have combined both astronomical 
tlieory and practice, Bradley is one of the most re- 
markable. In this respect, we must assij^n to him 
the first place in English liistory ; and if we were 
disposed to add, in that of the world, we are con- 
vinced that no country Avould pretend to offer more 
than one candidate to dispute his claim. 

James Bradley* was born in March, 1692 — 3, at 
Sherbourn in Gloucestershire. He was educated at 
the Grammar School of Northleach, and admitted 
of Baliol College, Oxford, in March 1710—11, 
where he proceeded to the degrees of B.A, and M.A. 
in the years 1714 and 1717 respectively. His mo- 
ther's brother was James Pound (deceased 1724), 
rector of Wanstead in Essex, and known as an ob- 

• The facts here given are entirely taken from the searching account 
of Bradley given by Professor Kigaud in his " Mibtullaneuus Works, &c. 
of James Bradley, Oxford, 1»32." 


server, particularly by the observations which he 
furnished to Newton, as described in the Principia. 
With him Bradley spent much of his younger life, 
and was his assistant in his astronomical pursuits ; 
and some obsen^ations of 1718 — 19 on double stars 
are in good accordance with the relative motions 
which have been since established in the case of 
those bodies. His tables of Jupiter's satellites, on 
which he was employed at the same time, show that 
he had detected the greater part of the inequalities 
in their motions which have since been observed. 

In 1718 he was elected fellow of the Royal So- 
ciety; in 1719 he was ordained to the vicarage of 
Bridstow, in Monmouthshire ; in the following year 
he received a sinecure preferment. But in 1721 he 
resigned these livings, on obtaining the Savilian 
professorship of Astronomy at Oxford, the holder of 
which, by the statutes, must not have any benefice. 
To finish what we may call the gazette of his life, 
he was engaged in Observation (with what results we 
shall presently see) both at Kew and Wanstead till 
1732, when he went to reside at Oxford, having 
since 1729 given yearly courses of lectures on Expe- 
rimental Philosophy. In 1742 he was appointed to 
succeed Halley as Astronomer Royal, and he held 
this appointment for the remainder of his life. In the 
same year he obtained the degree of D.D. In 1752, 
having refused the living of Greenwich, because he 
thought the duty of a pastor to be incompatible with 
his other studies and necessary engagements, he was 
presented with a pension of 250/. The last obser- 
vation made by him in the observatory is dated 
Sept. 1, 1761 ; and he died July 13, 1762, at Chal- 
ford in Gloustershire, having been afflicted by va- 
rious diseases for several years, and particularly by a 
depression of spirits, arising from the fear lest he 
should survive his faculties. He married in 1744 


and left one daughter, who died at Greenwich in 

There are now no lineal descendants of Bradley. 
Most of his writings, which VA'ere few in number, 
were published in the Philosophical Transactions. 
His personal merits are proved by the number of his 
friends, and the warmth with which they endeavoured 
to serve him when occasion arose, as well as by the 
strength of the testimonies which those who survived 
bore to his reputation as a man and a member of 

We have much abridged the preceding account, 
in order to make room for a popular exposition of 
his two great discoveries — the aberration of light, 
and the nutation of the earth^s axis. If we were to 
blot these discoveries out of his life, there would re- 
main an ample stock of useful labours, fully suf- 
ficient to justify us in stating that Bradley was un- 
equalled as an observer, and of no mean character 
as a philosopher. But for the latter we must refer 
the reader to the excellent account from which our 
facts have been taken, or to any history of astro- 

The parallax of the fixed stars had been long a 
subject of inquiry. If a body describe a circle, and a 
spectator on that body be unconscious of his own 
motion, all other bodies will appear to describe cir- 
cles parallel to that of the spectator's motion, and, 
absolutely speaking, equal to it ; consequently, the 
greater the distance of the body from the spectator, 
the smaller will its apparent annual motion be ; and 
it will not be circular, because the projection of the 
circle upon the apparent sphere of the heavens will 
foreshorten, and cause it to appear oval. If we sup- 
pose a star to describe an oval in the course of a 
year, the consequence will be that it will pass the 
spectator's meridian sometimes before a star in the 


centre of the oval, sometimes after it; sometimes 
nearer to the pole of the heavens, and sometimes more 
distant ; and the nature of the motion of this kind 
which would arise from parallax can be mathema- 
tically deduced. If the star be so distant that the 
oval is too small to be detected by measurement 
(which is hitherto the case with the fixed stars), then 
no alteration of place will be perceived on this ac- 
count ; but if an oval large enough to be observed 
be described in the course of a year, then the test of 
the phenomenon arising from the earth's motion in 
its orbit is as follows : — Imagine a plane always pass- 
ing through the centre of the sun, the centre of the 
earth, and the centre of the oval described by the star, 
then the place of the star in its oval must be in that 
plane ; or draw the shortest distance on the globe 
from the centre of the oval to the sun, and the star 
will be on the point of the oval which lies in that 

In and before the time of Bradley, the refi"action 
of light was not well determined, which would throw 
a doubt over any observations made to detect small 
quantities, unless the star which furnished them 
were situated in that part of the observer's heaven 
in which there is no refraction, or next to none, that 
is, in or near his zenith. For the purpose of mea- 
suring annual parallax, therefore, stars had always 
been chosen which passed very nearly over the 
spot of observation, and instmments called zenith 
sectors (now almost out of use) were employed, 
which measured small angles of the meridian near 
the zenith, the latter point being ascertained by a 
plumb-line. Mr. Molyneux, a friend of Bradley, 
and a wealthy man, had caused the celebrated Gra- 
ham to erect a large instrument of this kind at his 
house in Kew, afterwards the palace. Bradley and 
Molyneux observed with this instrument the star 


y in the Dragon, which passed nearly throui^h the 
zenith of that place, in December, 1725. The star 
was found to pass the meridian more and more to 
the south of the zenith, until the following March, 
when it was about twenty seconds (about the sixty- 
fifth thousandth part of the whole circuit of the 
heavens) lower than at first. It was afterwards 
traced back again to its first position in the follow- 
ing December, allowing for the precession of the 
equinoxes. Other stars were examined in the same 
way, and the result was, that all stars were found 
to describe small* ovals in the course of the year. 
But on comparing the situations of the stars in 
their small orbits with the corresponding places of 
the sun, it was evident that the cause of the phe- 
nomenon could not be the change of place arising 
from the orbital motion of the earth. Various 
hvpotheses proposed by Bradley were found in- 
sufficient. In 1727 he erected a zenith sector for 
himself at Wanstead ; and by further observations, 
and using different stars, he came at length to this 
fact, that instead of the star being in the place which 
annual parallax would give it, it was always in the 
position which it should have had a quarter of a 
year later : or that if the observer could measure the 
oval with sufficient exactness, and were to find the 
time of the year from the star, on the supposition of 
annual parallax being the cause of the star's orbit, 
he would suppose himself in March instead of 
December, and so on. 

That the phenomenon then had a regular con- 
nexion with the place of the earth was evident; but 
it was not that sort of connexion arising from the 

• The original memorandum of Bradley, on the first night on which a 
decided result had been obtained, was accidentally found among his pa- 
pers. There is a fac-simile of it in Professor lligaud's work. 


nnere change of place of the earth. It is related* 
that he was led to the true explanation by observing 
that the vane at the top of a boat's mast changed 
its direction a little whenever the boat was put 
about, and made to go in a contrary direction ; and 
that on his remarking that it was curious the wind. 
should shift every time the boat was put about, he 
was assured by the boatman that the same thin^ 
always happened. Be this as it may, he proposed 
to the Royal Society, in 1728, his beautiful expla- 
nation of the annual motion which he had observed 
in the stars ; namely, that it is caused by the altera- 
tion in the apparent direction of the rays of light, 
arising from the earth being in motion. Suppose a 
stream of bullets fired into a carriage in motion, in 
a line perpendicular to its side, and so directed as to 
hit the middle of the first window, but not with 
sufficient velocity to reach any part of the second 
window. It is plain that they will strike the hinder 
pannel, which the motion of the carriage brings 
forward, and that to passengers in the inside the 
direction of the stream will appear to be from the 
middle of the window at which it enters to the 
opposite hinder pannel : whereas, had the carriage 
been at, rest, it would have appeared to pass through 
the centre of both windows. And to make the 
stream really pass through both windows it must, if 
the carriage be in motion, be directed through the 
nearer window towards the foremost pannel on the 
other side. A ray of light is in the same situation 
with regard to the spectator, both as to the diurnal 
and the annual motion of the earth. The former 
gives an insensible aberration only ; the latter, one 

• Professor Rigaud ^ives this «toiy on the authority of ' Dr. Tliorason'g 
History of the Royal Society,' in which work we find no authority cited 
for it. 'VVe cannot lind it in'iiiiy otlier place, but are credibly informed 
tliat it rests ou goo<l traditional evidence. 


which, though small, is sensible. The smallness of 
the latter aberration arises from the velocity of light 
being more than ten thousand times that of the 
earth in its orbit. And it must be remembered that 
the motion of light was not an hypothesis, inA^ented 
to form tlie basis of Bradley's explanation, but was 
ascertained before his time, by Romer, from a phe- 
nomenon of an entirely different nature ; namely, 
the retardation observed in the eclipses of Jupiter's 
satellites, as the planet moved from the earth. The 
absolute deduction of the laws of aberration was 
completed by Bradley. 

The other gi'eat discovery of Bradley, namely, the 
nutation, or oscillatory motion of the earth's axis, 
was completed in 1747. In his Wanstead observa- 
tions he had observed some minute discrepancies, 
which at that time might be attributed to errors of 
observation; but after he was able to clear the 
apparent place of a star from the effects of aber- 
ration, the field became open to consider and assign 
the laws of smaller variations. By continual obser- 
vation, he found a small irregularity in the places of 
the stars, depending upon the position of the moon's 
node. Newton had already shown it to be a con- 
sequence of gravitation, that the sun must produce 
a small oscillation in the earth's axis : Bradley 
showed that a larger oscillation must arise from the 
moon, and be completed in the course of a revolution, 
not of the moon, but of the point where her orbit 
cuts the ecliptic. This discovery is therefore not of 
80 original a character as the last, since astrono- 
mers had for some time been in the habit of trying 
to reconcile every discrepancy which they observed 
by supposing a nutation; but to Bradley belongs 
the merit of discovering that small irregularity 
which really can be reconciled to such a supposition, 
and its physical causes. The easiest way of con- 



ceiving the effect of nutation is as follows : — The 
precession of the equinoxes, discovered by Hippar- 
chus, has this effect, that the fixed stars, so called, 
appear to move round the pole of the ecliptic, at the 
rate of a revolution in about 26,000 years. Instead of 
a star, let a small oval describe the same course, and 
let the star in the mean while move round that 
oval in the course of nineteen years. The motion 

[Observatory at Greenwich. 



thus obtained will represent the combined effect of 
precession and nutation. 

To these discoveries of Bradley we owe, as De- 
lambre obser\'es, the accuracy of modern astronomy. 
It must be remarked, that no individual, whose pre- 
vious laboiu's have caused public opinion to point 
him out as most fit for the part of Astronomer 
Royal, has ever been passed over when occasion 
occurred, from the time of Flamsteed to that at 
whicli we write. It is the fair reward of such a 
course, that the reputation which each successive 
occupant brought to that position should be con- 
sidered as appertaining to him in the public capa- 
city which it gained for him ; and this being granted, 
it may be truly said that there is no institution in 
the world which lias, upon the whole, done so much 
towards the advancement of correct astronomy as 
the ObseiTatory of Greenwich. 


" I WAS bom," says Hogarth in his Memoirs of 
himself, " in the city of London, November 10, 
1697, My father's pen, like that of many authors, 
did not enable him to do more than put me in a way 
of shifting for myself. As I had naturally a good 
eye, and a fondness for drawing, shows of all sorts 
gave me uncommon pleasure when an infant; and 
mimicry, common to all children, was remarkable in 
me. An early access to a neighbouring painter drew 
my attention from play ; and I was, at every possible 
opportunity, employed in making drawings. I 
picked up an acquaintance of the same turn, and 
soon learnt to draw the alphabet with great correct- 
ness. My exercises when at school were more re- 
markable for the ornaments which adorned them, 
than for the exercise itself. In the former I soon 



found that blockheads with better memories could 
much surpass me ; but for the latter I was pai'- 
ticularlv distinguished." 

To this account of Hogarth's childiiood we have 
only to add, that his father, an enthusiastic and 
laborious scholar, who like many of his craft owed 
little to the favour of fortune, consulted these indi- 
cations of talent as well as his means would allow, 
and bound his son apprentice to a silver-plate 
engraver. But Hogarth aspired after something 
higher than drawing ciphers and coats -of-arms ; 
and before the expiration of his indentures he had 
made himself a good draughtsman, and obtained 
considerable knowledge of colouring. It was his 
ambition to become distinguished as an artist ; and 
not content with being the mere copier of other 
men's productions, he sought to combine tlie func- 
tions of the painter with those of the engraver, and 
to gain the power of delineating his own ideas, and 
the fruits of his acute observation. He has himself 
explained the nature of his views in a passage which 
is worth attention. 

" Many reasons led me to wish that I could find 
the shorter path, — fix forms and characters in my 
mind, — and instead of copying the lines, try to read 
the language, and, if possible, find the grammar of 
the art by bringing into one focus the various ob- 
servations I had made, and then trying by my power 
on the canvass how far my plan enabled me to com- 
bine and apply them to practice. For this purjjose 
I considered what various ways, and to what dif- 
ferent purposes, the memory might be applied ; and 
fell upon one most suitable to my situation and idle 
disposition ; laying it down first as an axiom, that 
he who could by any means acquire and retain in 
his memory perfect ideas of the subjects he meant to 
draw, would have as clear a knowledge of the figure ^ 


as a man who can write freely hath of the twenty- 
live letters of the alphabet and their infinite com- 
binations." Acting on these principles, he improved 
by constant exercise his natural powers of observa- 
tion and recollection. In liis rambles among the 
motley scenes of London he was ever on the watch 
for striking- features or incidents ] and not trusting 
entirely to memory, he was accustomed, when any 
face struck him, as peculiarly grotesque or expres- 
sive, to sketch it on his thumb-nail, to be treasured 
up on paper at his return home. 

For some time after the expiration of his ap- 
prenticeship Hogarth continued to practise the trade 
to which he was bred ; and his shop-bills, coats-of- 
arms, engravings upon tankards, &c., liave been 
collected with an eagerness quite disproportionate 
to their value. Soon he procured employment in 
furnishing frontispieces and designs for the book- 
sellers. The most remarkable of these are the plates 
to an edition of Hudibras, published in 1726 : but 
even these are of no distinguished merit. About 
1728 he began to seek employment as a portrait 
painter. Most of his performances were small fa- 
mily pictures, containing several figures, which he 
calls " Conversation Pieces," from twelve to fifteen 
inches high. These for a time were very popular, 
and his practice was considerable, as his price was 
low. His life-size portraits are few ; the most re- 
markable are that of Captain Coram in the Found- 
ling Hospital, and that of Garrick as King Richard 
III. But his practice as a portrait painter was not 
lucrative, nor his popularity lasting. Although 
many of his likenesses were strong and characteristic, 
in the representation of beauty, elegance, and high- 
breeding, he was little skilled. The nature of the 
artist was as uncourtly as his pencil ; he despised, 
or affected to despise, what is called embellishment, 


forgetting that every great painter of portraits has 
founded his success upon his power of giving to an 
object the most favourable representation of which 
it is susceptible. When Hogarth obtained employ- 
ment and eminence of another sort, he abandoned 
portrait painting, with a growl at the jealousy of his 
professional brethren, and the vanity and blindness 
of the public. 

March 23, 1729, Hogarth contracted a stolen 
marriage with the only daughter of the once fashion- 
able painter, Sir James Thornhill. The father, for 
some time implacable, relented at last ; and the re- 
conciliation, it is said, was much forwarded by his 
admiration of the " Harlot's Progress," a series of 
six prints, commenced in 1731, and published in 
1734. The novelty as well as merit of this series of 
prints won for them extraordinary popularity ; and 
their success encouraged Hogarth to undertake a 
similar history of the " Rake's Progress," in eight 
prints, which appeared in 1735. The third, and 
perhaps the most popular, as it is the least objec- 
tionable of these pictorial novels, " Marriage Ala- 
mode," was not engraved till 1745. 

The merits of these prints were sufficiently intel- 
ligible to the public : their originality and boldness 
of design, the force and freedom of their execution, 
rough as it is, won for them an extensive popularity 
and a rapid and continued sale. The Harlot's Pro- 
gress was the most eminently successful, from its no- 
velty rather than from its superior excellence. 
Twelve hundred subscribers' names were entered for 
it ; it was dramatised in several forms ; and we may 
iiote, in illustration of the difference of past and pre- 
sent manners, that fan-mounts were engraved, con- 
taining miniature copies of the six plates. The 
merits of the pictures were less obvious to the few 
who could afford to spend large sums on works of art ; 


and Hogarth, too proud to let them go for prices 
much below the value which he put upon them, 
waited for a l9ng time, and waited in vain, for a 
purchaser. At last he determined to commit them 
to public sale ; but instead of the common method of 
auction, he devised a new and complex plan, with 
the intention of excluding picture-dealers, and oblig- 
ing men of rank and wealth, who wished to purchase, 
to judge and bid for themselves. The scheme failed, 
as might have been expected. Nineteen of Ho- 
garth's best pictures, the Harlot's Progress, the 
Rake's Progress, the Four Times of the Day, and 
Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn, produced only 
427/. Is.f not averaging 221. IO5. each. The Har- 
lot's Progress was purchased by Mr. Beckford, at the 
rate of fourteen guineas a picture ; five of the series 
perished in the fire at Fonthill. The Rake's Pro- 
gress averaged twenty-two guineas a picture ; it has 
passed into the possession of Sir John Soane, at the 
advanced price of five hundred and seventy guineas. 
The same eminent architect became the proprietor of 
the four pictures of an Election, for the sum of 1732/. 
Marriage Alamode was disposed of in a similar way 
in 1750; and on the day of the sale one bidder ap- 
peared, who became master of the six pictures, to- 
gether with their frames, for 115/. IO5. Mr. Anger- 
stein purchased them, in 1797, for 1381/., and they 
now form a striking feature in om- National Gallery. 
The number and variety of Hogarth's moral and 
satiric works preclude our naming any but the more 
remarkable. To those already mentioned we would 
add the March to Finchley, Southwark Fair, the 
Distressed Poet, the Enraged Musician, Modern 
Midnight Conversation, Gin Lane and Beer Street, 
the four prints of an Election, and two entitled 
" The Times," which would hardly require notice, 
except for having produced a memorable quarrel be- 


tween himself on one side, and Wilkes and Church- 
hill on the other. The satire of the first, published 
in 1762, was directed, not against Wilkes himself, 
but his political friends, Pitt and Temple ; nor is it 
so biting as to have required Wilkes, in defence of 
his party, to retaliate upon one with whom he had 
lived in familiar and friendly intercourse. He did so, 
however, in a number of the North Briton, containing 
not only abuse of the artist, but unjust and injurious 
mention of his wife. Hogarth was deeply wounded 
by this attack, and he retorted by the well-known 
portrait — it ought not to be called a caricature — of 
Wilkes with the cap of liberty. " I wished," he says, 
" to return the compliment, and turn it to some ad- 
vantage. The renowned patriot's portrait, drawn as 
like as I could, as to features, and marked with some 
indications of his mind, answered every purpose. A 
Brutus, a sa\'iour of his countiy, with such an aspect, 
was so arrant a farce, that though it gave rise to 
much laughter in the lookers-on, it galled both him 
and his adherents. This was proved by the papers 
being crammed every day with invectives against the 
artist, till the town grew sick of thus seeing me al- 
ways at full length. Churchill, Wilkes's toad-eater, 
put the North Briton into verse in an epistle to 
Hogarth ; but as the abuse was precisely the same, 
except a little poetical heightening, it made no im- 
pression, but i^erhaps effaced or weakened the black 
strokes of the North Briton. However, having an 
old plate by me, with some parts ready sunk, as the 
back-ground and a dog, I began to consider how I 
could turn so much work laid aside to some account ; 
and so patched up a print of Master Churchill in the 
character of a bear." The quarrel was unworthy 
of the talents either of the painter or poet. " Never," 
says Walpole, *' did two angry men of their abilities 


throw dirt with less dexterity." It is the more to be 
regretted, because its effects, as he himself intimates, 
were injurious to Hogarth's declining health. The 
summer of 1764 lie spent at Chiswick, and the free 
air and exercise worked a partial renovation of his 
strength. The' amendment, however, was but tem- 
porary ; and he died suddenly, October 26, the day 
after his return to his London residence in Leicester 

If we have dwelt little upon Hogarth's merits in 
his peculiar style of art, it is still less necessary to say 
much concerning his historical pictures. Of their 
merits he himself formed a high and most exag- 
gerated estimate, not hesitating to give out that 
nothing but envy and ignorance prevented his own 
pictures from commanding as much admiration, and 
as high prices, as the most esteemed productions of 
foreign masters. Posterity has confirmed the judg- 
ment of his contemporaries, and Hogarth's serious 
compositions are very generally forgotten. The 
only one which merits to be excepted from this 
obsen'^ation is his Sigismunda, painted in 17.59, 
in competition with the well-known and beautiful 
picture, ascribed by some to Correggio, by others to 
Furino. Our painter's vanity and plain dealing had 
raised up a host of enemies against him among 
jiainters, picture-dealers, and connoisseurs; and all 
whose self-love he had wounded, or whose tricks he 
had denounced, eagerly seized this opportunity to 
vent their anger in retaliation. The picture is well 
known, both by engravings and by Walpole's severe 
criticism. We abstain from quoting it ; we have 
passed lightly over a great artists excellences, and 
it would be unfair to expatiate on his defects and 
errors. Besides this, Hogarth's chief historical 
works are the Pool of Bethesda and the Good 
Samaritan, executed in 1736 as a specimen of his 



powers, and presented to St. Bartholomew's Hospital ; 
Paul before Felix, painted for the Hall of Lincoln's 
Inn, in 1749 ; and Moses brought before Pharaoh's 
daughter, painted in 1752, and presented to the 
Foundling Hospital. 

Hogarth was not a mere painter : he used the pen 
as well as the pencil, and aspired to teach as well 
as to exercise his art. He has left a memoir of his 
own life, which contains some curious and interest- 
ing and instructive matter concerning his own 
modes and motives of thought and action. He 
wrote verses occasionally in a rough and familiar 
style, but not witliout some sparkles of his humorous 
turn. But his most remarkable performance is the 
" Analysis of Beauty," composed with the ambitious 
view of fixing the principles of taste, and laying 
down unerring directions for the student of art. Its 
leading principle is, that the serpentine line is the 
foundation of all that is beautiful, whetlier in nature 
or art. To the universality of • this assertion we 
should be inclined to demur ; Nature works by con- 
trast, and loves to unite the abrupt and angular with 
the flowing and graceful, in one harmonious whole. 
The work, however, unquestionably contains much 
that was original and valuable. But when it was 
found that Hogarth, a man unpolished in conversa- 
tion, not regularly trained either to the use of the 
})en or the pencil, and, above all, a profound despiser 
of academics, of portrait painters, and of almost all 
things conventionally admired, had written a book 
professing to teach the principles of art, the storm 
of criticism which fell upon him was hot and 
furious. It was discovered that Hogarth was not 
the author of the book, that the principle was false 
and ridiculous, and that every body had been in 
possession of it long before. The last objection, cer- 
tainly, is so far true, that every one instinctively 


must feel a line of easy curvature to be more 
graceful than one of abrupt and angular flexure. 
But the merit of first enunciating this as a rule of 
art belongs to Hogarth ; and it is recorded to have 
been the opinion of West, uttered after the author's 
death, that the Analysis is a work of the highest 
value to the student of art, and that, examined after 
personal enmity and prejudice were laid to sleep, it 
would be more and more read, studied, and under- 
stood. We doubt whether this judgment of the 
President is altogether sanctioned by the practice of 
the present day ; but time, without altogether esta- 
blishing the author's theory, has at least laid asleep 
the malicious whispers which denied to Hogarth 
the merit of it, whatever that may be. 

In the executive part of his art, either as painter 
or engraver, Hogarth did not attain to first-rate 
excellence. His engravings are spirited, but rough ; 
but they have the peculiar merit (one far above 
mechanical delicacy and correctness of execution) of 
representing accurately, by a few bold touches, the 
varied incidents and expression which he was so acute 
and diligent in observing. A faithful copier, his 
works are invaluable as records of the costume and 
spirit of the time : and they preserve a number of 
minute illustrative circumstances, which his bio- 
graphers and annotators have laboured to explain, 
with the precision used by critics in commenting 
upon Aristophanes. Wit and humour are abundant 
in all of them, even in accessories apparently insig- 
nificant ; and they require to be studied before half 
the matter condensed in them can be perceived and 
apprehended. " It is worthy of observation," says 
Mr. Lamb, " that Hogarth has seldom drawn a mean 
or insignificant countenance." This is so far true, 
that there are few of his faces which do not con- 
tribute to the general effect. Mean and insignificant 


in the common sense of the words they often are, 
and the fastidious observer ^\^ll find much to over- 
come in the general want of pleasing ©bjects in his 
compositions. But the vacancy or expression, the 
coarseness or refinement of the countenance, are 
alike subservient to convey a meaning or a moral ; 
and in this sense it may justly be said, that few of 
Hogarth's faces are insignificant. Through tlie 
more important of his works a depth and unity of 
purpose prevails, which sometimes rises into high 
tragic effect, the more striking from the total absence 
of conventional objects of dignity, as in the two last 
plates of the " Rake's Progress." " Gin Lane" 
has been included by Mr. Lamb in the same praise, 
and its power cannot be denied ; but it contains too 
much that is purely disgusting, mixed with much 
that is in the nature of caricature, to be a general 

The nationality of Hogarth's prints has given to 
them a more lasting and extensive popularity than 
any class of engravings has ever enjoyed. Not to 
mention the large impressions from the original 
plates, which were touched and retouched again and 
again, they have been frequently engraved on a 
smaller scale, accompanied with an historical and 
descriptive text ; and there is scarcely a library of 
any pretensions which has not a " Hogarth Illus- 
trated," in some shape or other, upon its shelves. 
Of these works, the first was Dr. Truster's " Hogarth 
Moralised," re-published lately in a very elegant 
shape : the most complete is the quarto edition of 
Hogarth's works, by Nichols and Stevens. There 
is a long and valuable memoir of the artist in Rees's 
" Cyclopaedia," by Mr. Phillips, R. A., and an ex- 
tended life by Allan Cunningham in the " Family 
Library." The works of Walpole, Gilpin, Hazlitt, 
and others, will furnish much of acute criticism i 


and we especially recommend the perusal of an 
Essay by Charles Lamb on the " Genius and Cha- 
racter of Hogarth," published originally in the 
" Reflector," No. 3. It is chiefly occupied by a 
minute criticism upon the " Rake's Progress;" and 
though, in our opinion, somewhat partial and ex- 
cessive in praise, is admirably calculated to show 
the reader in what spirit the moral works of Hogarth 
should be studied. 


Our memoir of the man who originated that system 
of canal navigation, which contributed in no 
secondary degree to the wonderful increase of our 
national wealth in the last century, is taken entirely, 
and in many parts verbatim, from Dr. Kippis's 
Biographia Britannica. The article Brindlky in 
that work, communicated by Brindley's brother-in- 
law, Mr. Henshall, and his friend Mr. Bentley, 
appeal's to be the only original account of him ex- 
tant, and the source from which all later accounts 
have been taken. 

James Brindley was born in the parish of Worm- 
hill in Derbyshire, in 1716. He was the son of a 
small freeholder, who squandered his property in 
rustic dissipation, and could scarcely afford to give 
him even the rudiments of education. His boyhood, 
therefore, was spent in rural labour: but at the age 
of seventeen he left his home, to be apprenticed to a 


millwright at Macclesfield. He soon exhibited an 
uncommon share of mechanical ingenuity, which 
enabled him to excel his master in planning and 
executing orders for machinery more complicated 
than usual, and caused his services to be eagerly 
sought and highly prized by those who had once 
occasion to employ him. 

At a later period he went into business on his 
own account, and, by many useful inventions and 
contrivances, established his reputation throughout 
the neighbourhood as a skilful mechanic. He 
gradually obtained a wider range for the exercise 
of his powers. In 1752 he erected a remarkable 
engine to drain some coal mines at Clifton, in 
Lancashire, of which the moving power was a 
wheel fixed thirty feet below the surface of the earth, 
and driven by water drawn from the river Irvvell, 
by a tunnel cut for near 600 yards through the 
rock. In 1755 he was employed to construct por- 
tions of the works for a silk mill at Congleton, 
under the superintendence of an engineer, who 
proved incompetent to the task which he had in 
hand. Brindley does not appear ever to have ex- 
ecuted machinery of the sort required, and he had 
not even been permitted to see the general model of 
the mill : but on the incompetency of his superior 
being discovered, he came forward and told the pro- 
prietors, that if they would let him know what was 
the eifect they wished to have produced, and would 
permit him to perform the business in his own way, 
he would finish the mill to their satisfaction. The 
knowledge which they had of his ability and integrity 
induced them to repose confidence in this assurance : 
he accomplished that very curious and complex 
piece of machinery, in a manner far superior to the 
expectations of his employers, and with the addition 
of several new and useful contrivances. He also 


invented machines for making tooth and pinion 
wheels, which hitherto had been cut'by hand, and 
with great labour. 

Many other improvements Brindley introduced 
into the mechanical arts. But about this time his 
thoughts were drawn towards a larger sphere of 
action by the resolution of Francis Duke of Bridge- 
water to cut a canal from his coal mines at Worsley 
to the town of Mancliester, distant about seven 
miles. This scheme is said to have been before 
conceived by one of that nobleman's predecessors ; 
but that circumstance does not detract from the 
honour due to the great perseverance and resolution 
displayed in the execution of his plan. Divesting 
himself of the splendour which usually belongs to 
his rank, he devoted his large revenue almost en- 
tirely to his favourite undertaking; resisting the 
temptation to borrow money, lest he should involve 
himself and his successors in irremediable difficulties, 
in case of tlie failure of an undertaking which, from 
its novelty, no man living could assert to be certain 
of success. At the same time having selected Brind- 
ley as his engineer, on good experience of his skill 
and talent, he placed a noble confidence in him ; 
and, A\'ithout fear or distrust, devoted his energy 
and fortune to work out the magnificent design 
which the genius of his coadjutor liad planned. 
As the difficulties to be overcome were very great, so 
there was little experience to guide the projectors. 
Navigable rivers indeed had been improved, and 
those which were not navigable by nature had been 
made so by pounding up their waters with locks and 
dams: but of canals, properly so called, this was 
the first constructed in England. That it might be 
perfect in its kind, it was resolved to preserve a 
level, and avoid locks altogether : but to effect this 
obstacles were to be overcome, such as never had 


been surmounted in England, — obstacles which had 
always been considered insurmountable. Naviga- 
ble tunnels were to be cut, long and large mounds 
to be carried across valleys, and in the line which 
finally was adopted, an aqueduct bridge of three 
arches, nearly fifty feet in height, and including the 
embankments on each side, five hundred yards in 
length, was to be carried over the river Irwell* 
This ])art of the scheme being generally considered 
wild and extravagant, Brindley, to justify himself to 
his employer, desired that the opinion of another 
engineer might be taken. This was accordingly 
done : but the second, on being conducted to the 
spot where it was intended that the aqueduct should 
be made, exclaimed, " I have often heard of castles 
in the air, but never before was shown the place 
where any of them were to be erected.'' But the 
Duke of Bridgewater's confidence in Brindley was 
not to be shaken, and the bridge was undertaken and 
finished within less than a year. 

It is needless now to give the details of works 
which, though they excited the wonder of contem- 
poraries, have been far surpassed in magnitude by 
more recent undertakings. One feature in the Duke 
of Bridgewater's canal, however, is too remarkable 
to be passed over : it is continued on the same level 
more than three quarters of a mile into the heart of 
the hill in which the collieries are situated, so that 
after a short transit in low waggons along the gal- 
leries of the mine, the coal is deposited at once in 
the barges which convey it to Manchester. For 
a fuller account, we may refer to Phillips's History 
of Inland Navigation. In 1762 the Duke of 
Bridgewater obtained an Act of Parliament, enabling 
him to continue his canal from Worsley in an oppo- 
site direction to Runcorn, in the tideway of the 
Mersey, so as to establish a perfect water-way be- 

• See next page. 



[Aqueduct over tlie Irwell.] 


tween Liverpool and Manchester, unembarrassed 
by the constant current, and inequalities of flood 
and drought, which impeded the navigation of the 
Irwell. In this part of the line several deep valleys, 
especially those of the rivers Mersey and BoUin, 
were to be crossed, and this was done without the 
assistance of a single lock. Brindley's method of 
constructing the long embankments, which occurred 
in some places, was remarkable : he built caissons 
along the line of its intended course, into which 
boats laden with excavated soil were conducted by 
the canal itself, and discharged their contents upon 
the very spot where the ground was to be raised. 
Thus the canal, as it were, pushed itself forward ; 
and the labour and expense of transporting these 
immense masses of earth were greatly diminished. 
To guard against the total loss of water, and ruin to 
the surrounding country, which might occur from 
a breach of these embankments, Brindley contrived 
stops, which were gates so hung as to lie horizon- 
tally near the bottom when the \vater was at rest, 
but to rise and close when any current should be 
produced by the banks giving way, and thus prevent 
the escape of any water, except that portion near the 
breach which should be comprised between them. 
It is hardly necessary to add that the result of this, 
the greatest undertaking perhaps ever performed by 
any private person out of his own fortune, has been 
the realization of an enormous income to the peer 
who undertook it, and to his heirs. 

This success encouraged others to proceed in the 
same course ; and in 1765 a subscription was raised, 
and an Act of Parliament procured, for uniting the 
rivers Mersey and Trent, and consequently the ports 
of Liverpool and Hull, by what is commonly called 
the Grand Trunk Canal. Brindley bestowed this 
name upon it, in the expectation that, traversing a 


large and important portion of our manufacturing 
district, it would be the main trunk, from which a 
number of minor branches would spring. The scheme 
had been projected so early as 1755, and the ground 
surveyed, which for the most part offered little diffi- 
culty. But there was one line of high ground, called 
Harecastle Hill, which could neither be turned nor 
surmounted by any expedient that former engineers 
could devise. Brindley overcame the obstacle by 
driving a tunnel through it, upwards of a mile and 
five furlongs in length, and in some parts seventy 
yards below the surface of the ground. This canal, 
which is ninety-three miles long, was begun in 1760, 
and finished in May, 1777, less than eleven years 
after its commencement. In connexion with it, 
Brindley planned and executed a branch which joined 
the Severn^ and thus gave Bristol an inland naviga- 
tion to Hull, Liverpool, and Manchester. 

Some notion may be formed of the impulse which 
Brindley's energy and skill gave to tlie system of in- 
ternal navigation, when it is stated that during the 
few years which elapsed between the completion of 
the Bridgewater Canal and his death, in 1772, he 
was engaged in at least eighteen different projects 
for cutting canals, or for improving rivers, without 
including those we have already mentioned. The 
mere names of these would be matter of little inte- 
rest ; they may be seen in the Biographia Britannica. 
Nor shall we now be expected to dwell on the unpre- 
cedented increase of trade and manufactures during 
the last century, and to point out how closely this is 
connected with our great facilities of internal com- 
munication. One thing, however, is too remarkable 
to be passed over : it was as nearly as possible at the 
same time that Watt, Arkwright, and Brindley, 
were effecting, each in his own department, those 
wonderful improvements in mechanical science, 


which conjointly have given such jvast extent and 
importance to all branches of our manufactures, and 
which singly would have been, as it were, each of 
them crippled and imperfect. Of Brindley's private 
history, scarcely any particulars are preserved. The 
following account of his cliaracter is stated by Dr. 
Kippis to proceed from the pen of Mr. Bentley, a 
partner in the celebrated house of Wedgwood, who 
knew him well : — 

*' When any extraordinary difficulty occurred to 
Mr. Brindley in the execution of his works, having 
little or no assistance from books, or the labours of 
other men, his resources lay within himself. In 
order therefore to be quiet and uninterrupted, whilst 
he was in search of the necessary expedients, he ge- 
nerally retired to his bed ; and he has been known to 
lie there one, two, or three days, till he had attained 
the object in view. He then would get up and exe- 
cute his design without any drawing or model. In- 
deed, it never was his custom to make either, unless 
he was obliged to do it to satisfy his employers. His 
memory was so remarkable, that he has often de- 
clared that he could remember and execute all the 
parts of the most complex machine, provided he had 
time, in his survey of it, to settle in his mind the se- 
veral departments, and their relation to each otlier. 
His method of calculating the powers of any machine 
invented by him was peculiar to himself. He worked 
the question for some time in his head, and then put 
down the results in figures ; after this, taking it up 
again in that stage, lie worked it further in his mind 
for a certain time, and set down the results as before. 
In the same way, he still proceeded, making use of 
figures only at stated periods of the question. Yet 
the ultimate result was generally true, though the 
road he travelled in search of it was unknown to all 
but himself; and, perhaps, it would not have been 
in his power to have shown it to another. 


" The attention which was paid by Mr. Brindley 
to objects of peculiar magnitude did not permit him 
to indulge himself in the common diversions of life. 
Indeed, he had not the least relish for the amuse- 
ments to which mankind in general are so much 
devoted. He never seemed in his element, if he was 
not either planning or executing some great work, or 
conversing with his friends upon subjects of import- 
ance. He was once prevailed upon, when in London, 
to see a play. Having never been at an entertain- 
ment of this kind before, it had a powerful effect 
upon him, and he complained for several days after- 
wards that it had disturbed his ideas, and rendered 
him unfit for business. He declared, therefore, that 
he would not go to another play upon any account. 
It might, however, have contributed to the longer du- 
ration of Mr. Brindley's life, and consequently to the 
further benefit of the public, if he could have occa- 
sionally relaxed the tone of his mind. His not being 
able to do so, might not solely arise from the vigour 
of his genius, always bent upon capital designs ; but 
be, in part, the result of that total want of education, 
which, while it might add strength to his powers in 
the particular way in which they were exerted, pre- 
cluded him, at the same time, from those agreeable 
reliefs that are administered by miscellaneous read- 
ing, and a taste in the polite and elegant arts. The 
only fault he was observed to fall into was his suf- 
fering himself to be prevailed upon to engage in more 
concerns than could be completely attended to by 
any single man, how eminent soever might be his 
abilities and diligence. It is apprehended that, by 
this means, Mr. Brindley shortened his days, and in 
a certain degree abridged his usefulness. There is, at 
least, the utmost reason to believe, that his intense 
application in general to the important undertakings 
he had in hand brought on a hectic fever, which 


continued upon him, with little or no intermission, 
for some years, and at length terminated his life. 
He died at Turnhurst, in Staffordshire, on the 27th 
of September, 1772, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, 
and was buried at New Chapel in the same county. 
The vast works Mr. Brindley was engaged in at the 
time of his death, he left to be carried on and com- 
pleted by his brothei'-in-law Mr. Henshall, for whom 
he had a peculiar regard, and of whose integrity and 
abilities in conducting these works he had the high- 
est opinion. 

" The public could only recognise the merit of this 
extraordinary man in the stupendous undertakings 
which he carried to perfection, and exhibited to ge- 
neral view. But those who had the advantage of 
conversing with him familiarly, and of knowing him 
well in his private character, respected him still more 
for the uniform and unshaken integrity of his con- 
duct ; for his steady attachment to the interest of 
the community ; for the vast compass of his under- 
standing, which seemed to have a natural affinity 
with all grand objects ; and likewise for many noble 
and beneficent designs, constantly generating in his 
mind, and which the multiplicity of his engagements, 
and the shortness of his life, prevented him from 
bringing to maturity." 




David Hume was born in Edinburgh, April 26, 
1711, His father, who was descended from a branch 
of the Earl of Home's or Hume's famih', died while 
David was an infant, leaving him, with an elder 
brother and sister, to the care of his mother, the 
daughter of Sir Edward Falconer, who devoted the 
remainder of her days to the welfare of her children. 
Her property was inconsiderable, and that which 
fell to David, as a younger son, was very slender. 
His family, observing the manner in which he ac- 
quitted himself at college, would have fixed his at- 
tention on the law ; but his growing passion for 
philosophy and general learning rendered him averse 
to that pursuit, and after a fruitless attempt at 
Bristol to reconcile himself to a more active kind of 
employment, he went to France, where he laid 
down that plan of life to which he ever afterwards ad- 

HUME. 241 

hered. It now became liis fixed resolve to secure 
his independence by means of the most rigid fru- 
gality ; and to deem every acquisition contemptible, 
except the improvement of his talents in literature. 
This was in 1734. 

During his three years' residence in France, 
Hume composed his Treatise of Human Nature, 
which he published on his return to England, in 
1738. The work failed to attract the slightest 
notice from friend or foe. But our young aspirant 
was not dismayed ; and his buoyant spirit was much 
strengthened by the degree of success which at- 
tended the appearance of the first part of his Essays, 
which were published at Edinburgh in 1742. 

In 174.^ Hume quitted the residence of his mother 
and brother, in compliance with an invitation from 
the Marquis of Annandale ; the friends of that 
young nobleman having thought that his health 
and mind required the aid which such a tutorship, or 
companionship, for we hardly know which to call 
it, would afford. Hume states, that his employ- 
ment during the twelve months thus passed in Eng- 
land made a considerable accession to his small 
fortune. "I thus received," he says, " an invitation 
from General St. Clair to attend him as a secretary 
to his expedition, which was at first meant against 
Canada, but ended in an incursion on the coast of 
France. Next year, to wit 1747, I received an in- 
vitation from the General to attend him in the same 
station in his military embassy to the courts of 
Vienna and Turin. I then wore the uniform of an 
officer and was introduced at those courts as aid-de- 
camp to the General, along with Sir Harry Erskine, 
and Captain Grant, now General Grant. These 
two years were almost the only interruptions my 
studies received during the course of my life." 

In 1747 Hume re-cast the first part of his Trea- 

VOL. in, p 

242 HUME. 

tise of Human Nature, and published it under the 
title of an Inquiry concerning Human Understand- 
ing. But this amended performance also failed to 
produce any immediate effects ; and a new edition of 
his Essays Moral and Political, published about the 
same time in London, found scarcely a better 
reception. Still looking to the hopeful side of 
things, our author composed during 1749 and 1750 
the second part of his Essays, which were called 
Political Discourses ; and also his Inquiry concern- 
ing the Principles of Morals, which was another 
part of his ill-fated Treatise of Human Nature, in 
a new fonn. By this time some of the more ob- 
noxious parts of that treatise began to call forth op- 
ponents, and it became evident that its author, 
though much more frequently censured than ap- 
plauded, was a man of rising reputation. This 
result was favoured by his determination never to 
reply to any of his critics, a resolve which the pecu- 
liarities of his temper enabled hira to act upon to 
the end of life. 

In 1731 he removed to Edinburgh, and being 
chosen librarian by the Faculty of Advocates in the 
following year, the plan of writing his History of 
England was formed. This memorable work com- 
menced with the accession of the House of Stuart ; 
and the author, who was sanguine as to its success, 
relates that " on the publication of the first volume, 
he scarcely knew a man in the three kingdoms, con- 
siderable for rank or letters, that could endure the 
book." After a sale of less than fifty copies in the 
first year, the work seemed fast sinking into oblivion. 
This disappointment appears to have affected Hume 
more than any event which had befallen him ; and, 
had not the war with France at that juricture pre- 
vented it, he would probably have gone to that 
country, never again to see his own. But the 

HUME. 243 

habits induced by a passion for literature are not 
easily put in abeyance. Soon after receiving this 
discouragement, Hume published his Natural His- 
tory of Religion. In 1756 the second volume 
of the History of England made its appearance, 
" which not only rose itself, but helped to buoy up 
its unfortunate brother." The third volume, relat- 
ing to the House of Tudor, appeared in 1759, and 
was censured hardly less than the first. In 1761 
the two volumes embracing the early period of our 
history were published, and, according to their author, 
" with tolerable, and but tolerable success." 

Hume now formed the purpose of spending the 
remainder of his days in philosophical retirement in 
Scotland ; but was induced in 1763 to visit Paris, 
in connexion with the embassy of the Earl of 
Hertford to that city. The honours paid to our 
philosopher and historian in that capital once dis- 
posed him to think of settling there for life. He 
had now passed his fiftieth year, and his official 
residence in Paris extended, with a slight intermis- 
sion, to six years — from 1763 to 1769. From the 
period of his leaving Paris, to 1775, when his last 
sickness came upon him, his time appears to have 
been given chiefly to the enjoyment of his friends ; 
his authorship, and other employments, having 
secured him an income of not less than 1000/, a 
year. A disorder in the bowels, which reduced him 
considerably, but without becoming the occasion of 
much pain, or at all affecting his spirits, ended his 
life, August 25, 1776, in the sixty-fifth year of his 

Hume's character as a man has been sketched by 
himself, and his account may be admitted as, in 
most respects, substantially accurate. He describes 
himself as mild in disposition, possessing a command 
of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, 


244 HUME. 

capable of attachment, but little susceptible of en- 
mity, and of great moderation in his passions. 
" Even my love of literary fame," he adds, " my 
ruling passion, never soured my temper, notwith- 
standing my frequent disappointments. My company 
was not unacceptable to the young and careless, as 
well as to the studious and literary ; and as I took a 
particular pleasure in the company of modest women, 
I had no reason to be displeased with the reception I 
met with from them. In a word, though most men 
any wi<e eminent, have found reason to complain of 
Calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked by 
her baleful tooth : and though I wantonly exposed 
myself to the rage of both civil and religious factions, 
they seemed to be disarmed in my behalf of their 
wonted fury. My friends never had occasion to vin- 
dicate any one circumstance of my character and 
conduct." Much to this effect is the testimony of 
Dr. Adam Smith, the intimate friend of Hume. 
This writer, indeed, does not hesitate to speak of him 
" as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly 
wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of 
human frailty will permit." Some deduction should 
of course be made from this language, as that of a 
natural self-love in the one instance, and of an ardent 
friendship in the other. It is no proof, for example, 
of Hume's exemption from the irascible passions, 
that he should have been so rarely capable of ad- 
verting to the opponents of his favourite speculations 
in morals or religion, without indulging in reproach- 
ful and degrading language ; " bigots" and " zea- 
lots" being the designations flung at such persons 
on almost all occasions. In the same spirit the 
name of a " faction " is his favourite one for that 
large class of politicians in this country whose prin- 
ciples did not embrace so much of " the monstrous 
creed of many made for one," as belonged to his own. 

HUME. 245 

And it is worthy of notice, that a passage in his 
memoirs, which was inserted by him as an evidence 
of his exemption from this sort of pi'ejudice and re- 
sentment, affords one of the most decisive proofs that 
he shared in this common weakness much more than 
himself or his admirers were willing to allow. 
" Though I had been taught by experience," he 
writes, " that the Whig party were in possession of 
bestowing all places, both in the state and in litera- 
ture, I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless 
clamour, that in above a hundred alterations, which 
further study, reading, or reflection, engaged me to 
make in the reigns of the two first Stuarts, I have 
made all of them invariably to the Tory side." Now 
what reader can suppose that the inaccuracies de- 
tected by a mind without bias could possibly have 
occurred in this shape — a hundred on one side, and 
not one on the other ? The fact itself, and the tone in 
which it is recorded, disclose what our philosopher 
would fain have concealed. We leave the moral 
conduct of Hume in the spotless state set forth by 
his own description of it, though we cannot forbear 
to remark that such language comes somewhat 
strangely from a gentleman who had been so fasci- 
nated with the manner of the Parisian fashionables 
under Louis XV., as to have thought of never leav- 
ing them. We believe, however, that in his case, 
the principal attraction of such society was its polish, 
and not its almost incredible licentiousness. We 
learn, that in one of those gay assemblies, Hume 
was induced to make his appearance in the character 
of a Sultan, placed on a sofa between two of the 
most beautiful women in Paris. It was his province 
to solicit the favours of these ladies, and it was theirs 
to act the part of fair ones who were not to be sub- 
dued, and in the dialogue, or rather trilogue, which 
lasted some quarter of an hour, the author of the 


246 HUME. 

Treatise of Human Nature, and of the History of 
England, acquitted himself, we are told, much to 
the edification of all who were present*. In these 
moments of relaxation, the philosopher was regarded 
as discovering his amiable sympathy with the ordi- 
nary feelings of humanity. It does not appear to 
have occurred to him, or to his flatterers, to consider 
the much stronger evidence of the Avant of such sym- 
pathy, wliich was afforded by his approval of the 
system of government which had so long spread its 
terrors and its wrongs over the length and breadth of 
that splendid, miserable country. Our limits will 
not allow of any reference to the particulars of the 
public dispute between Hume and Rousseau, and we 
therefore abstain from expressing any opinion re- 
specting it. 

In the philosophical writings of Hume, the great 
element is scepticism. He had many precursors in 
that sort of amusing speculation which tends to throw 
doubt over received opinions ; and which, as a na- 
tural effect of human vanity, does so the more in 
regard to those notions which happened to be re- 
tained most generally and with the greatest confi- 
dence. But these limits did not satisfy the author 
of the Treatise of Human Nature. The drift of his 
philosophy is to prove, not only that nothing is 
known, but that nothing ca7i be known ; tliat the 
human race are shut up in the most entire igno- 
rance, partly from the character of the objects around 
them, but mainly from the very framework and na- 
ture of the human understanding. Much ingenuity 
and acuteness were required to give any plausible ap- 
pearance to a theory so contrary to the natural im- 
pressions of mankind, and Hume's philosophical 
works afford evidence enough of the sort of talent 

* ' Memuiros et CorresponUanoe de^ Madame d'Epinay/ iii. 384, 289. 

HUME. 241 

necessary to his object. But he well knew, that 
however proper, and however felicitous it might be, 
to lay low the giant spirit of dogmatism by such 
means, his own conclusions, in every instance of 
importance, were hardly less dogmatic than those of 
his opponents, the principal difference being, that 
the sources of his assumptions were somewhat more 
difficult to detect and expose. For what assumption 
can be greater than that of a right to believe in all 
unbelief? In this case, the very faculty that doubts 
must be a figment of vanity. The writer, who de- 
termines to assail everything, forces on mankind a 
suspicion of caprice and insincerity, and is not likely 
to demolish anything. By attempting less, Hume 
would liave accomplished more ; and he would not 
then have called forth that array of philosophic 
power against himself, which has done so much 
damage to his reputation in this department of his 
labours. His miscellaneous Essays abound in va- 
luable observations, and are fine models of English 
composition. The manner in which he met his 
death is the stock theme with the superficial, as illus- 
trating the power of philosophy. But the man of 
reflection may perhaps see as much of the weakness 
of humanity in that event, as of the strength of phi- 
losophy ; and certainly he will not need to be told, 
that nothing can be more delusive than the use 
generally made of such scenes. 

It is not however as the philosopher, but as the 
historian, that Hume is known to the majority of 
persons, both in this country and on the continent. 
Those habits of close thought, and that careful use of 
language, to which he had been so long accustomed 
in his philosophical studies, qualified him, in a high 
degree, to treat the topics of history with discri- 
mination, simplicity, and clearness. The evil to be 
feared was, that he would often allow the spright- 

248 HUME. 

liness of narrative to sink into the dullness of disqui- 
sition ; and that even his narrative would be deficient 
in that selection of familiar anecdote, and in those 
picturesque descriptions, which, while having little 
relation to the great lessons of history, are certainly 
among its great attractions. But it happens that the 
narrative of Xenophon himself is not more easy and 
uninterrupted than that of Hume ; nor has the former 
writer shown a stronger disposition to dwell on do- 
mestic incidents, or to throw a dramatic colouring 
over public occurrences, than the latter. Never did 
any man bring so much of the power of abstruse 
thought to the writing of history, and appear to be 
so much served and so little inconvenienced by it. 
His station and intercourse in society added much of 
the feeling and manners of the gentleman to the 
more grave attainments of the man of learning, and 
tended to produce that combination of qualities 
which made his society at all times agreeable, and 
has thrown a nameless and irresistible charm over 
his historical writing. His style was the result of 
great elaboration, but has every appearance of being 
that which must have been adopted without effort. 
It is open, indeed, in almost every page, to much 
verbal criticism, no book perhaps of the same stand- 
ing being in this respect so vulnerable. But these 
lesser blemishes are forgotten amid the many natu- 
ral and delightful graces with which it is adorned ; 
graces which no one can help feeling, but which it 
would be as difficult to describe as to imitate. 

Having however spoken thus of Mr. Hume's 
style, and remarked the general acuteness and fre- 
quent justice of his observations, we have fairly ex- 
hausted our topics of praise. With regard to the 
two most valuable qualities of a historian — research 
and integrity, the claims of Hume are in the inverse 
position of his pretensions in other respects. Instead 

HUME. 249 

of seekinp^, as the author of the Essay on Miracles 
might have been expected to do, for the best possible 
testimonies, for these in the greatest possible num- 
her, and then sifting them to the utmost, we find 
him committing himself, with apparent unconsci- 
ousness, to the most incompetent guides, often to a 
single authority where several were accessible, and 
where several are adduced, attaching no more credit 
to the depositions of an intelligent writer contem- 
porary with what he records, than to that of some 
worthless chronicler, who lived some centuries later ! 
This is particularly the case with regard to that 
portion of our history which precedes the Reforma- 
tion ; and there cannot be a greater mistake than to 
suj)pose that his references at the foot of the page in 
these earlier volumes indicate the sources from which 
the material of his text was derived. " Ingenious 
but superficial" is the description of these volumes 
which Gibbon recorded in his diary, after reading 
them. In the more modern period of our history, 
as the authorities relating to it may be consulted by 
an indolent man with less labour, and by a man of 
taste with less disgust, we find a little more research 
and discrimination, but by no means sufficient to 
render his accounts worthy of implicit confidence, 
even when not liable to be affected by any of his 
known partialities. It is to this deficient industry, 
and to the consequent Avant of a steady mastery of 
his subject before beginning to write upon it, that we 
have mainly to attribute the perpetual contradictions 
which occur in his description of the great contest 
under the Stuart princes ; contradictions which are 
so many and so irreconcilable as to make his book 
one of the most inconsistent that ever emanated from 
a man of ordinary powers. We have not, of course, 
space in which to exhibit the proofs of this state- 

250 HUME. 

merit ; — but we are confident that inquiry will prove 
it to be correct. 

But the want of industry, though a serious de- 
linquency in a historian, is almost venial when com- 
pared with a want of impartiality, and the deficiency 
of Hume in this last quality has been often and 
largely exposed. The extent in which the historian 
was conscious of his own habit of unfairness, it is 
not in our power to determine ; but there is hardly 
a conceivable form of disingenuousness, of which 
his volumes might not be shown to afford numerous 
and striking examples. The volume embracing the 
reigns of James and Charles was first published, and 
we have seen that the reception it met with only 
taught the author to resolve, ^vith a more fixed pur- 
pose, as to the complexion of those which were to 
follow. In instances where his integrity is in the 
main preserved, his eloquence is often so far mis- 
directed that the truth becomes discoloured, and 
makes the impression of falsehood. In his hands 
the faults of his favourites lose much of their mag- 
nitude and grossness, while their merits are raised 
much above their proper level, and with regard to 
their opponents, the inverse process is adopted. Dis- 
agreeable facts are passed over, or but partially and 
very artfully developed; while others, of an opposite 
nature, have all prominence, and all imaginable 
force assigned them. Incidents of very rare occur- 
rence, and existing only as exceptions, are culled 
with the greatest care, and presented as the rule, 
and as no more than samples of the abundance that 
might be adduced. And in describing the rea- 
sonings and the motives by which the contending 
parties from time to time were influenced, it is the 
fixed usage of this writer to consult his own pre- 
j udices or imagination much more than the lights 

HUMK. 251 

aiForded by the documents of the times. These 
summaries, as they are called, are inserted by Hume, 
in the place of the speeches which the ancient his- 
torians were wont to put into the mouth of their 
leading men ; and, interesting as they are, deserve 
no more credit, considered as the character of par- 
ties, or as accounts of what was really said, than it 
is usual to bestow on those elaborate harangues. 
There is much reason to believe that the historian 
began the reigns of the two first Stuarts with a sin- 
cere conviction that sufficient allowance had not 
been made for the peculiar situation of those princes. 
But his delinquencies are such, that this excuse 
must be of small avail in his defence. The majority 
of more than one generation in this country have 
derived their notions of English history almost ex- 
clusively from the pages of Hume ; but so low has 
he fallen as a historical authority, that the persons 
who have read scarcely anything else, rarely show 
courage, or rather weakness, enough to make any 
appeal to him. 


John Harrison was born in May, 1693, at Foulby, 
in Yorkshire. His father, who was a joiner, trained 
him from an early age to the same business ; but he 
soon began to study machinen,'. He turned his 
attention to the mechanism of clocks ; and to 
obviate the irregularities produced in their rate of 
going by variations of temperature, he invented the 
method of compensation, employed in what is now 
called the gridiron pendulum, before the year 1720. 
This contrivance consisted in constructing a pen- 
dulum with bars of different metals, having diiferent 
rates of expansion so as to correct each other : it 
is described in all popular treatises on physics. By 
this means it is stated that he had, before the year 
above mentioned, constructed two clocks which 
agreed with each other within a second a month. 


and one of which did not vary, on the whole, more 
than a minute in ten years.* 

This success induced him to turn his attention to 
watches, or rather to time-keepers for naval pur- 
poses. It would be impossible without the help of 
plates to render intelligible the rise and progress of 
his methods, for which we must refer the reader to 
treatises on Horology. His first instrument was 
tried upon the Humber, in rough weather, and suc- 
ceeded so well that he was recommended to carry 
it to London, for the inspection of the Commissioners 
of Longitude. 

The question of the discovery of the longitude 
had been considered of national importance since the 
year 1714, when an Act was passed offering 10,000/., 
15,000/., and 20,000/. for any method of discover- 
ing the longitude within 60, 40, or 30 miles respec- 
tively. In 1735 Harrison arrived in London with 
his time-piece, and showed it to several members of 
the Royal Society. He obtained a certificate of its 
goodness, signed by Halley, Smith, Bradley, Machin, 
and Graham, in consequence of which he was allowed 
to proceed with it to Lisbon, in a king's ship, in 
1736. The watch was found to correct the ship's 
reckoning a degree and a half; and the Commis- 
sioners thereupon gave Harrison bOOL, to enable 
him to proceed. He finished a second time-piece in 
1739, and a third in 1758, each nearer to perfection 
than the former, and both abounding in ingenious 
contrivances to overcome the effects of temperature, 
and of the motion of a vessel at sea. In 1741 he 
obtained another certificate, signed by almost every 
name of eminence in English science of the time. 
In 1749 the gold medal of the Royal Society was 
awarded to him. In 1761, having then a fourth 

• Folke's Address to the Royal Society, Nov, 30, 1740. 


time-piece in hand, but being convinced that the 
third was sufficiently correct to come wthin the 
limits of the act of parliament, he applied to the 
Commissioners for a trial of it. Accordingly, in 
1761 (Nov. 18), his son, William Harrison, was 
sent in a king's ship to Jamaica with the watch, and 
returned to Portsmouth, March 26, 1 762. On arrival 
at Port Royal, Jan. 19, 1762, the watch was found 
wrong only 5yV seconds ; and at its return, only 1 
minute b4^ seconds. This was sufficient to deter- 
mine the longitude within 18 miles j and Harrison 
accordingly claimed 20,000/., in a petition to the 
House of Commons, presented early in 1763. The 
Commissioners had awarded him 1 500/., and pro- 
mised loco/, more after another voyage. Owing 
to some doubt as to the method of equal altitudes 
employed in finding the time at Port Royal, they 
do not appear to have been of opinion that the first 
voyage was conclusive. In 1763 an act passed, 
by which, firstly, no other person could become en- 
titled to the reward until Harrison's claim was 
settled ; and secondly, 5,000/. was awarded to him 
on his discovery of the structure of the instrument. 
But the Commissioners not agreeing about the pay- 
ment, another voyage was resolved on, and Mr. 
William Harrison sailed again for Barbadoes, with 
Dr. Maskelyne, afterwards the Astronomer Royal. 
The result was yet more satisfactory than before ; 
and in 1765 a new act was passed, awarding to 
Harrison the whole sum of 20,000/. : the first moiety 
upon the discovery of his construction ; the second, 
so soon as it should be found that others could be 
made like it. In this act it is stated that the watch 
did not lose more than ten miles of the longitude. 
But Harrison had by this time been rendered unduly 
suspicious of the intentions of the Commissioners. 
He imagined that Dr. Maskelyne had treated him 


unfairly, and was desirous of having no metliod of 
finding the longitude except that of lunar observa- 
tions. An account of the subsequent proceedings, 
of which the following is an abstract, was printed in 
self-defence by the Commissioners : — 

May 28, 1765, Mr. Harrison's son informs the 
Commissioners that he is ready to deliver the draw- 
ings and explanations, and expects a certificate that 
he is entitled to receive the first moiety of the reward. 
The Commissioners are unanimously of opinion that 
verbal explanations and experiments, in the presence 
of such persons as they may appoint, will be neces- 
sary. May 30, Mr. Harrison attends in person, and 
consents to the additional explanation ; and certain 
men of science, as well as watchmakers, are instructed 
to receive them. June 13, Mr. Harrison, being 
present, is informed that the Board is ready to fix a 
time to proceed, on which he denies ever having 
given his assent, and refers to a letter which he had 
delivered at the last meeting. The letter had not, 
says the Commissioners' Minute, been delivered, but 
had been left upon the table, unnoticed by any one. 
It was to the effect that Harrison was willing to give 
further verbal explanation, but requires to know to 
whom it must be given ; " for," says he, " I will 
never attempt to explain it to the satisfaction of the 
Commissioners, and who they may appoint ; nor will 
I ever come under the directions of men of theory." 
He further refuses to make any experimental exhibi- 
tion, and ends by complaining of the usage he has 
received. He was then told by the Board that he 
would only be asked for experiments in cases where 
there were operations which could not be fully ex- 
plained by words, such, for instance, as the temper- 
ing of the springs; on which he left the Board 
abruptly, declaring, " that he never would consent to 
it, as long as he had a drop of English blood in his 



bo4y." The Commissioners thereupon declined 
further dealing with him. 

The reason of the above absurd conduct we sus- 
pect to have been, that Harrison desired, in addition 
to the large reward claimed by him, to have a mo- 
nopoly of the manufacture of his watches, such as 
would have necessarily been created for his benefit, 
had he been allowed to keep his actual methods of 
working a secret. For he offered, upon receiving 
the reward, " to employ a sufficient number of hands, 
so as with all possible speed to furnish his Majesty's 
navy, &c. &c., not doubting but the public will con- 
sider the charge of the outset of the undertaking." 
We quote here from the Biographia Britannica, in 
the last volume of which, published in 1766, is an 
account of him, from materials avowedly furnished 
by himself, and plainly written by a partisan. It is 
the only instance we can find in which a memoir of 
a living person has been inserted in that work. 

The next circumstance we find, (for there is no 
connected history of this discussion, which exists 
only in a number of detached pamphlets,) is the de- 
livery of the watch to Dr. Maskelyne, at the Royal 
Observatory, in May, 1766, that its rate of going 
might there be tried. The Report of the Astrono- 
mer Royal states, that it could not be depended upon 
within a degree of longitude in a voyage of six weeks ; 
and a very angry pamphlet, published by Harrison in 
the following year, accuses Maskelyne of having 
treated the instrument unfairly. Many circum- 
stances are stated which now appear ludicrous, and 
some which, if true, would have reflected discredit on 
the Commissioners. But nothing can be inferred, 
after the refusal of Harrison to accede to the very 
reasonable demand of the Commissioners, except 
that he was most probably as wrong in his suspicions 
as he had been foolish in his dealings. The end of 


this dispute was, that in 1767 Harrison complied 
with the conditions insisted upon ; and, it having 
been found that his improvements were such as ad- 
mitted of execution by another person, he received 
the whole sum awarded to him by the Act of 

Harrison was not a well-educated man, and was 
deficient in the power of expressing his meaning 
clearly. It was easier for him, no doubt, to make 
two watches than to explain one ; and hence, per- 
haps, his aversion to " men of theory," who troubled 
him for descriptions and explanations. 

He died in 1776, at his house in Red Lion Square, 
having been engaged during the latter years of his 
life in bringing his improvements still nearer to per- 
fection. His last work, which was tried in 1772, 
was found to have erred only four seconds and a 
half in ten weeks. 

In his younger days, some church-bells, which 
were out of tune, set him upon examining the mu- 
sical scale, with a view to correct them. He com- 
municated his ideas on the subject to Dr. Smith, 
who confirmed and extended them in his well-kno\vn 
work on Harmonics. In the Preface it is stated 
that Harrison made the interval of the major-third 
bear to that of the octave the proportion of the dia- 
meter of a circle to its circumference. This, he 
said, he did on the authority of a friend, who assured 
him it would give the best scale. Harrison himself 
wrote a treatise on the scale, but we do not know 
whether it was published. 

He is, on the whole, a fine instance of the union 
of originality with perseverance. The inventions, 
of which it takes so short a space to tell the history, 
were the work of fifty years of labour, and to them 
the art of constructing chronometers, and conse- 
quently the science of navigation, is indebted for 
much of its present advanced state. 


Jean Jacques Rousseau, the son of a watch-maker 
at Geneva, was born June 28, 1712. His mother 
dying while he was yet a child, his father took a 
second wife ; and he himself was placed at school at 
the village of Bossey, near Geneva, where he learnt 
but little, and was afterwards apprenticed to an en- 
graver, a coarse, brutal man, whose treatment of 
him tended to sour a temper already wilful and mo- 
rose. He became addicted to idleness, pilfering, and 
lying. The fear of punishment for some act of es- 
pecial misconduct induced him to run away from his 
master, and he wandered into Savoy, where finding 
himself totally destitute, he applied to the Bishop of 
Annecy, on the plea of wishing to be instructed in 
the Catholic religion. The bishop recommended 
him to Madame de Warens, a Swiss lady, herself a 


convert to Catholicism, who lived at Annecy. She 
received the boy kindly, relieved his present wants, 
and afforded him the means of proceeding to Turin, 
where he entered the College of Catechumens, and 
after going through a preparatory course of instruc- 
tion, abjured the reformed religion, and became a 
Catholic. But as he refused to enter into holy 
orders, on leaving the college he was again thrown 
upon his own resources. He became a domestic 
servant ; but his want of self-control and discretion 
rendered him very unfit for his employment ; and 
in 1730 he returned to the house of Madame de 
Warens, who received him kindly, and afforded him 
support and protection during the next ten years. 
Of his foolish, profligate, and ungrateful course 
of life during this period, we have neither space nor 
wish to give an account : after many absences, and 
many returns, Rousseau quitted her finally in 1740, 
receiving letters of introduction to some persons at 
Lyons. Tutor, musician, and private secretary to 
the French Ambassador, his restless temper and ver- 
satile mind led him successively from Lyons to Paris 
and Venice. From the last-named city he returned 
to Paris in 1745 ; and alighting at an obscure inn, 
met with a servant girl, Therese Levasseur, with 
whom he formed a connexion which lasted all the 
rest of his life. He tried to compose music for the 
stage, but did not succeed in his attempts. He was 
next employed as a clerk in the office of M. Dupin, 
Fermier-general, but did not remain long in his new 
employment. In 1748 he became acquainted with 
Madame d'Epinay, who proved afterwards one of 
his steadiest and kindest friends. He frequented the 
society also of D'Alembert, Diderot, and Condillac, 
and he was engaged to write the articles on music 
for the Encyclopedic, which he did very ill, as he 
himself acknowledges. One day he saw by chance 


in an advertisement that a prize had been offered by 
the Academy of Dijon tor the best essay on the 
question, Whether the progress of sciences and of the 
arts has been favourable to the morals of mankind ? 
He at once resolved to write for the prize, and ap- 
parently without having ever before considered the 
subject, made up his mind to take the negative side 
of the question. Diderot encouraged, but did not, 
as has been commonly said, originate this deter- 
mination. He suj)ported his position, that science, 
literature, and art, have been fatal to the virtues and 
happiness of mankind, with a glowing eloquence ; 
and the Academy awarded him the prize. His suc- 
cess confirmed him in a turn for paradox and ex- 
aggeration ; and he seems to have adopted, as a 
general principle, the doctrine that the extreme 
opposite to wrong must necessarily be right. At 
the same time his reputation as an author became 
established, and in a few years after his first essay 
he was acknowledged to be one of the most, or 
rather the most, eloquent writer among his con- 
temporaries. Meantime he persevered in his at- 
tempts at musical composition, and wrote ' Le Devin 
du Village,' an opera which was played before the 
king at the Court Theatre of Fontainebleau, and 
met with the royal approbation. Rousseau was in 
one of the boxes with a gentleman belonging to the 
com't. The king having expressed a desire to see 
the composer of the opera, Rousseau became alarmed 
or ashamed at the slovenly condition of his dress, 
and instead of repairing to the royal presence, he 
ran out of the house and hastened back to Paris. 
Naturally shy, he possessed neither ease of manners 
nor facility of address, and he could never through- 
out life subdue his own acute feeling of these de- 
ficiencies ; a feeling which of course tended to per- 
petuate and increase his awkwardness. This was 


the secret spring of most of his eccentricities. In 
order to hide his imperfections, he resorted to the 
plan of affecting to disregard manners altogether; 
he put on the appearance of a cynic, of a misan- 
thropist, which he was not in reality. 

It was about the year 1750, soon after writing his 
dissertation for the Dijon prize, that he made a 
total change in his habits and mode of living. He 
gave up all refinement about his dress, laid aside his 
sword, bag, and silk stockings, sold his watch, but 
kept his linen apparel, which however was stolen 
from him shortly after. He spent one-half of the 
day in copying music as a means of subsistence, and 
he found constant employment. Several persons 
who knew his circumstances offered him three or 
four times the value of his labour, but he would 
never accept more than the usual remuneration. 
In 1753 he wrote his ' Lettre sur la Musique Fran- 
<;aise,' in which he asserted that the French had no 
music deserving the name, that they could not 
possibly have any, and then added, that " were they 
ever to have any it would be all the worse for them ;" 
a sentence unintelligible to his readers, and probably 
to himself also. When, years after this, he heard 
Gluck, with whose music he was delighted, he ob- 
serv'ed to some one, "this man is setting French 
words to very good music, as if on purpose to con- 
tradict me;" and upon this reflection he broke off 
acquaintance with Gluck. However, his letter on 
French music sorely wounded the national vanity, and 
he was exposed to a sort of petty persecution in con- 
sequence of it. Rousseau wrote next his letter to 
D'Alembert, ' Sur les Spectacles,' which led to a 
controversy between them. He wrote also the 
' Discours sur I'Origine de I'lnegalite parmi les 
Hommes,' for another prize of the Academy of Dijon, 
with a dedication to the magistrates of his native 




town Geneva, which was much admired as a speci- 
men of dignified eloquence. The discourse itself is 
composed in his accustomed paradoxical vein. He 
maintains that men are not intended to be sociable 
beings ; that they have a natural bias for a solitary 
existence ; that the condition of the savage, untu- 
tored and free in his native wilds, is the natural and 
proper state of manj and that every system of 
society is an infraction of man's rights, and a sub- 
version of the order of nature. He assumes that 
men are all born equal by nature, disregarding the 
daily evidence of the contrary, in respect both of 
their physical and moral powers. His idea of the 
equal rights of men, which he afterwards developed 
in the ' Contrat Social,' instead of being founded 
upon enlightened reason, religion, and morality, 
rests upon the base of his favourite theory, of man's 
equality in a state of nature ; while we know from 
experience, that those savage tribes who approach 
nearest to this imaginary natural state, acknowledge 
no other right than that of the strongest. Most of 
Rousseau's paradoxes proceed from the false position 
assumed in his first dissertation, that a savage, 
unsocial state, is the very perfection of man's exist- 

After the publication of this discourse Rousseau 
repaired to Geneva, where he was well received by 
his countrymen. He there abjured Catholicism and 
resumed the profession of the reformed religion. 
But he soon returned to Paris ; and, at the invita- 
tion of Madame d'Epinay, in 1756, took up his 
residence at the house called L' Hermitage, in the 
valley of Montmorency, near Paris. It was in this 
pleasant retirement that he began his celebrated 
novel ' Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise,' which he 
finished in 1759. As a work of imagination and 
invention it is little worth ; but as a model of im- 


passioned eloquence, it will be admired as long as 
the French language shall continue to be spoken or 
read by men. Rousseau, while he wrote it, was 
himself under the influence of a passion which he 
had conceived for the beautiful Madame d'Houdetot, 
Madame d'Epinay's sister-in-law, a love totally hope- 
less and ridiculous on his part, but which no doubt 
inspired him while engaged in the composition of 
this work. When it appeared, many people, espe- 
cially women, thought that Julie was a real living 
object of his attachment, and the supposition being 
favourable to the popularity of the book and its 
author, Rousseau was not very anxious to undeceive 
them. He esteemed the fourth portion of the work 
the best. " The first two parts are but the desul- 
tory verbiage of feverish excitement, and yet I could 
never alter them after I had once written them. 
The fifth and the sixth are comparatively weak, but 
I let them remain out of consideration of their 
moral utility. . . My imagination cannot em- 
bellish the objects I see ; it must create its own ob- 
jects. If I am to paint the spring, I must do it in 
winter ; if to describe a landscape, I must be shut 
up within walls : were I confined in the Bastille, I 
should then write best on the charms of liberty. I 
never could write as a matter of business, I can only 
do it through impulse or passion." (Rousseau's 
' Notes to the Nouvelle Heloise,' in Mercier and Le 
Tourneur's edition.) He had great difficulty in 
constructing his periods : he turned them and he 
altered them repeatedly in his head, often while in 
bed, before he attempted to put them on paper. 

La Nouvelle Heloise has been censured for the 
dangerous example it aff'ords, and for the inte- 
rest it throws upon seduction and frailty. The 
character of St. Preux is decidedly faulty, and even 
base, in spite of all his sophistry, which however has 


probably led other young men placed in a similar 
situation to forget the relative duties of society, and 
the obligations of hospitality. Here we perceive 
also the influence of Rousseau's favourite paradox ; 
for in a state of nature, such as Rousseau has fancied 
it, the intimacy of St. Preux and Julie would have 
been unobjectionable. But then the relative position 
of the teacher, his pupil, and her parents, would not 
have been the same as in the novel, for they would 
have been all savages together. Rousseau has how- 
ever redeemed the character of Julie after she 
becomes a wife, and he has thus paid a sincere 
homage to the sacredness of the marriage bond, and 
to the importance of conjugal duties, the basis of all 
society. Rousseau was not a contemner of virtue ; 
he felt its beauty, though his practice was by no 
means modelled on its dictates. He tells us himself 
the workings of his mind on this subject. " After 
much observation I thought I perceived nothing 
but error and folly among philosophers, oppression 
and misery in the social order. In the delusion of 
my foolish pride I fancied myself born to dissipate 
all prejudices ; but then I thought that, in order to 
have my advice listened to, my conduct ought to 
correspond to my principles. I had been till tlien 
good-hearted, I now became virtuous. Whoever 
has the courage of showing himself such as he is, 
must, if he be not totally depraved, become such as 
he ought to be." It was probably in compliance 
with his growing sense of moral duty, that he mar- 
ried at last the woman he had so long been living 
with, when she was forty-seven years of age, and, 
as he himself acknowledges, was not possessed of 
any attractions of either mind or person, having 
nothing to recommend her except her attention to 
him, especially in his frequent fits of illness or de- 
spondency. He seems also to have bitterly repented, 


in the latter years of his life, having in his youth 
sent his illegitimate children to the foundling hos- 

Rousseau's next work was the ' Emile, ou de 
r Education,' which appeared in 1762. It contains 
many excellent precepts, especially in the first part, 
although, as a -whole system, it may be considered 
as impracticable, at least in any state of society 
which has yet been formed upon the earth. It was 
remarked at the time, that the author, after having 
brought up his Emile to manhood, ought to create 
a new world for him to live in. Rousseau himself 
seems to have been of this opinion, for when a Mr. 
Angar introduced to him his son, whom he said he 
had educated according to the principles of the 
Emile, Rousseau quickly replied, " So much the 
worse for you, and for your son too." The ' Emile,* 
however, introduced some beneficial changes in the 
early treatment of children. It discredited the ab- 
surd practice of swaddling infants like mummies, to 
the manifest injury of their tender limbs ; it induced 
mothers of the higher ranks to suckle their children, 
instead of committing them to the care of nurses ; 
it corrected several wrong principles of early educa- 
tion, such as that of ruling children through fear, of 
considering them as slaves having no will of their 
own, and of terrifying them by absurd stories and 
fables ; it inculcated freedom of body and mind, the 
necessity of amusement and relaxation, of appealing 
to the feelings of children, of treating them like 
rational beings. Rousseau may be truly called the 
benefactor of children. As he proceeded, however, 
in his plan for boys grown older, Rousseau became 
involved in some of his favourite speculations about 
religion and metaphysics, which gave offence to both 
Catholics and Protestants. The Parliament of Paris 
condemned the work. Tlie Archbishop issued a 


mandement against it. The States-General of Hol- 
land likewise proscribed the book. At Geneva, it 
was publicly burnt by the hand of the executioner. 
The publication of the ' Contrat Social, ou Principes 
du Droit Politique,' which appeared soon after, 
added to the storm against the author. It contains 
much speculative truth, combined with much igno- 
rance of men's nature and passions. The idea of a 
perfect and universal model of government, without 
regard to local circumstances, seems chimerical. It 
is a curious fact that Rousseau, after reading Ber- 
nardin de St. Pierre's political works, observed that 
they contained projects which were impracticable on 
account of a fundamental error, out of which the 
author was unable to extricate himself, namely, 
" that of supposing that men in general and in all 
cases will conduct themselves according to the dic- 
tates of reason and virtue, rather than according to 
their passions." Rousseau, in uttering these words, 
passed judgment on his own ' Contrat Social,' which 
he afterwards also acknowledged having written, 
" not for men, but for angels." In fact, he never 
meant it for anything but a speculative treatise, and 
in his ' Considerations sur le Gouvernement de la 
Pologne,' published some years after, having to write 
for a practical purpose, he considerably modified his 
former principles. 

In consequence of the excitement produced by 
these works, Rousseau left Paris for Switzerland in 
1762. He went first to Yverdun, but the Senate of 
Berne enjoined him to leave its territory. He then 
repaired to Neuchatel, which was subject to the 
King of Prussia, and of which the old Marshal 
Keith was Governor. Keith received him very 
kindly, and Rousseau took up his residence at the 
\dllage of Motiers, Jn the Val de Travers. There 
he wrote a Reply to the Archbishop of Paris, and a 


Letter to the Magistrates of Geneva, in which he 
renounced his rights of citizenship. He next wrote 
the " Lettres de la Montagne," which is a series of 
severe strictures on the political government and 
church of Geneva. It is curious as a sketch of the 
old institutions of that republic, written by one of 
its own citizens. This work increased the existing 
irritation against its author, a feeling which spread 
even to the villagers of Motiers, who are said to 
have annoyed their eccentric visiter in various ways. 
Rousseau, however, is suspected of having greatly 
magnified, if not invented, some of the acts of ag- 
gression of which he complains. He spoke of them 
as amounting to a regular conspiracy against his 
person, and removed his abode to the little island of 
St. Pierre, on the lake of Bienne. Thence, after a • 
time, as if to court notice, he wrote a letter to the 
Senate of Berne, requesting permission to remain on 
the island. For answer he received an order to quit 
the territory of the canton in twenty-four hours. 
At the invitation of his former friend Marshal 
Keith, he meditated a visit to Berlin. But the 
advice of some friends in Paris induced him to 
change his mind, and accept the friendly offer of our 
historian Hume, who was anxious to procure for him 
a safe asylum in England, where he might quietly 
attend to his studies and live in peace. Rousseau 
arrived in London in January, 1766 ; and in the 
following March went to his intended home at 
Wootton in Derbyshire. Knowing the man he had 
to deal with, Hume, with the real kindness of cha- 
racter which he possessed, had sought by every 
means to avoid shocking the irritable delicacy or 
vanity of his protegtl ; and the residence which he 
procured for him in the house of a man of fortune, 
Mr. Davenport, is said to have been unexceptionable. 
But before long he quarrelled with both Hume and 


Davenport, left "Wootton abruptly, and returned to 
France. The ostensible cause of all this was the 
publication of a letter in the newspapers, bearing 
the King of Prussia's name, and reflecting severely 
upon Rousseau's weaknesses and eccentricities. 
Rousseau accused Hume, or some of his friends, of 
having written it. Hume protested in vain that he 
knew nothing of the matter. At last Horace Wal- 
pole acknowledged himself to be the author. Rous- 
seau, however, would not be pacified, and attributed 
to Hume the blackest designs against him. The 
correspondence that passed between the parties on 
the subject is curious, and is given in the complete 
eiditons of our author's works. He afterwards 
seemed to say that during his residence in England 
he had been subject to fits of insanity. 

Returning to France, Rousseau led an unsettled 
life, with frequent changes in his place of residence, 
until June, 1770. He then returned to Paris, and 
took lodgings in the Rue Platriere, which has since 
been called Rue J. J. Rousseau. It is to be noticed 
that in the interim he had published his ' Diction- 
naire de Musique,' a work which has the reputation 
of being both imperfect and obscure. Indeed, not- 
withstanding his passionate fondness for the art, he 
never attained to a profound acquaintance with it. 
Passing through Lyons on his way to Paris, he sub- 
scribed his mite towards the erection of a statue to 
Voltaire : thus avenging himself for the coarse abuse 
which the latter had on many occasions poured upon 
him, and which Rousseau never returned. Voltaire 
is said to have been exceedingly annoyed at this. 
After his return to the capital, he was overwhelmed 
with visits and invitations to dinner. Though there 
was a prosecution pending against him for his 
* Emile,' he was left undisturbed: but at the same 
time he was cautioned not to exliibit himself too 


conspicuously in public ; advice which he utterly 
disregarded. He soon relapsed into his former 
misanthropy, and became subject to convulsive fits, 
which fearfully disfigured his features, and gave a 
haggard expression to his looks. He fancied that 
every body was conspiring against him, and he also 
complained of inward moral sufferings which tor- 
tured his mind. 

Among other imaginary grievances, he thought 
that the French ministers had imposed restrictions 
upon him with respect to his writings. One of his 
friends applied to the Due de Choiseuil to ascertain 
the fact. The Duke's answer, dated 1772, is as 
follows: "If ever I have engaged M. Rousseau not 
to publish anything without my previous knowledge, 
of which fact however I have no remembrance, it 
could only have been in order to save him from 
fresh squabbles and annoyance. However, now 
that I have no longer the power of protecting him 
(the Duke had resigned his premiership), I fully 
acquit him of any engagement of the kind.*' 

As Rousseau was walking one day in the street 
Menil Montant, a large dog that was running before 
the carriage of the President Saint Fargeau tripped 
his legs, and he fell. The President alighted, ex- 
pressed his regret at the accident, and begged the 
sufferer to accept of his carriage to return home. 
Rousseau, however, refused. The next day the 
President sent to inquire after his health. "Tell 
your master to chain up his dog," was the only 

Being old and infinn, the labour of copying music 
had become too irksome for him ; still he would ac- 
cept of no assistance from his friends, though all his 
income consisted of an annuity of 1450 livres. His 
wife was also in bad health, and provisions were very 
dear at the time ; he therefore began to look out for 


a country residence. A friend mentioned this to the 
Marquis de Girardin, who immediately offered Rous- 
seau a permanent habitation at his chateau of Erme- 
nonville, near Chantilly. Rousseau accepted the 
proposal, and chose for his residence a detached 
cottage near the family mansion. He removed to it 
in May, 1778, and appeared more calm and con- 
tented in his new abode. He was fond of botany, and 
used to take long walks in quest of flowers with one 
of M. de Girardin's sons. On July 1st he went out 
as usual, but returned home fatigued and ill : he 
however slept quietly that night. Next morning he 
rose early according to his custom, and went out to 
see the sun rise ; he came back to breakfast, after 
which he went to his room to dress, as he intended 
to pay a visit to Madame de Girardin. His wife 
happening to enter his room shortly after, found him 
sitting with his elbow leaning on a chest of drawers. 
He said he was very ill, and complained of cold 
shivering and of violent pain in his head. Madame 
de Girardin being informed of this, came at once to 
visit him ; but Rousseau, thanking her for all her 
kindness to him, begged of her to return home and leave 
him alone for the present. He then having requested 
his wife to sit by him, begged her forgiveness for any 
pain or displeasure of which he might have been the 
cause, and said that his end was approaching, that 
he died in peace, as he never had intended or wished 
evil to any human being, and that he hoped in the 
mercy of God. He begged that M. de Girardin 
would allow him to be buried in his park. He gave 
directions to his wife about his papers, and requested 
her particularly to have his body opened, that the 
cause of his death might be ascertained. He then 
asked her to open the window, " that he might once 
more behold the beautiful green of the fields." 
" How pure and beautiful is the sky ! " he then ob- 


served, " there is not a cloud. I trust the Almighty 
will receive me there above.'' In so saying, he fell 
on his face to the floor, and on raising him, life was 
found to be extinct. On opening the body, a con- 
siderable quantity of serum was found between the 
brain and its integuments. His sudden death was 
attributed by many persons to suicide ; but there is 
no direct evidence of which we know to prove this. 
On the other side there is the positive assertion of 
the physician who examined the body, that his death 
was natural. Rousseau was buried in an island 
shaded by poplars, on the little lake of the park of 
Ermenonville. A plain marble monument was 
raised to his memory. 

The first part of his ' Confessions,' which he had 
begun to write while at Wootton, was published in 
1781. He had himself fixed the year 1800 for the 
publication of the second part, judging that, by that 
time, the persons mentioned in the work would be 
dead ; but, through an abuse of confidence on the 
part of the depositories of the MSS., it was published 
in 1788. His autobiography does not include the 
latter years of his life. 

Rousseau was temperate and frugal in his habits, 
disinterested and warm-hearted, and impressed with 
strong feelings against oppression and injustice. He 
was not envious of the fame or success of his brother 
authors. He never sneered at religion like Voltaire 
and others of his contemporaries, although in his 
speculative works he expressed his doubts concerning 
revelation, and brought forth the arguments that 
occurred to him on that side of the question : but he 
had none of the fanaticism of incredulity against 
Christianity. Of the morality of the Gospel he was 
a sincere admirer, and a most eloquent eulogist. " I 
acknowledge," he says in his ' Emile,' " that the 
majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me, that the ho- 


liness of the Gospel speaks to my heart. Look at 
the books of the philosophers ; with all their pomp, 
how little they appear by the side of that one book ! 
Can a book so sublime, and yet so simple, be the 
work of man? How prejudiced, how blind that man 
must be, who can compare the son of Sophroniscus 
(Socrates) to the son of Mary !" With such senti- 
ments Rousseau could not long agree with Helvetius, 
Diderot, D'Holbach, and their coterie. They, on 
their side, ridiculed and abused him, because he was 
too -sincere and independent for them. " I have 
spent my life," says Rousseau, " among infidels, 
without being seduced by them ; I loved and esteemed 
several of them, and yet their doctrine was to me in- 
sufferable. I told them repeatedly that I could not 
believe them .... I leave to my friends the task of 
constructing the world by chance. I find in the very 
architects of this new-fangled world, and in spite of 
themselves and their arguments, fresh proofs of the 
existence of a God, a Creator of all." A very good 
collection of the moral maxims scattered about 
R9usseau's works was published under the title of 
* Esprit, Maximes et Principes de J. J. Rousseau,* 
8vo., Neuchatel, 1774. 

Rousseau set to music about 100 French romances, 
which he called ' Consolations des Miseres de ma 
Vie.' Several editions of all his works have been 
made at different times : that by Mercier and Le 
Tourneur, 38 vols. 4to., has been long considered as 
one of the best. The edition of Lefevre, 22 vols. 
8vo., 1819-20, and that of Lequien, 21 vols. 8vo., 
1821-2, are now preferred to all former ones. 


William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, was born 
in Westminster, November 15, 1708. He was sent 
to Eton at an early age, and admitted a gentleman- 
commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in January, 
1726. His father, Robert Pitt, Esq., of Boconnock, 
in Cornwall, died in the following year, and left to 
him the scanty inheritance of a younger son. He 
quitted Oxford without taking a degree; spent 
some time in travelling on the Continent; and 
entered the army shortly after his return. He 
obtained a seat in Parliament for Old Sarum in 
1735, and attached himself to the party in opposition, 
then headed in the lower house by the Pulteneys, 
and favoured in the upper by the Prince of Wales. 
His known talents, and his determined hostility, soon 
drew upon him the anger of Sir Robert Walpole, 
who is reported to have said, " We must at all 
events muzzle that terrible cornet of horse." Failing 
in this, he had recourse to a method of revenge, which 
would not have been tolerated in later times, and 


took away Pitt's commission. For this injury, how- 
ever, the sufferer received an ample recompense in 
the increased estimation of the public. 

Pitt spoke with great ability and energy, in 1739, 
against the proposed convention with Spain, and in 
1740, against a bill introduced to facilitate the im- 
pressment of seamen, containing very arbitrary and 
oppressive provisions. Many of his speeches have 
been preserved, to a certain extent, in the periodical 
works of the day ; though it is probable, from the 
very imperfect mode of reporting which then pre- 
vailed, that little remains of their original garb of 
words. Walpole was compelled to resign in 1742; 
but, with his usual dexterity, he contrived, by dis- 
uniting the opposition, to secure himself from the 
consequences of an inquiry into his conduct. Pitt 
spoke with much heat and eloquence in favour of 
the inquiry ; and two of his speeches on this subject 
are reported at considerable length. He obtained 
no share in the ministry upon Walpole's fall, and 
continued to be a leader in opposition during the 
years 1742-3-4. More especially he was earnest in 
reprobation of the Hanoverian policy, which was 
supposed at that time to have an undue preponder- 
ance in our councils; and his pertinacity on this 
point engendered in the breast of George II. a 
strong personal dislike, which is said to have pre- 
vented his admission into that which was whim- 
sically termed the " broad-bottomed administration," 
formed at the close of 1744. In that autumn he 
received a bequest of £10,000 from the celebrated 
Duchess of Marlborough, " upon account of his 
merit, in the noble defence he has made for the 
support of the laws of England, and to prevent the 
ruin of his country." 

Pitt was assured by the Pelhams that as soon as 
the King's antipathy could be removed, his services 


would be secured to the government; and he ac- 
cordingly received the appointment of Vice-treasurer 
of Ireland, February 22, 1746, and, May 6, was 
promoted to the office of Paymaster-general. In 
the latter capacity he showed his superiority to 
pecuniary corruption, by foregoing the profit which 
it had been usual to derive from the large balances 
retained in that officer's hands, and by rejecting 
other lucrative perquisites of office. But he has 
incurred +he charge of political dishonesty, by sup- 
porting measures, as a minister, analogous in cha- 
racter to those which, under former governments, 
he had so strongly condemned. On this subject we 
may quote the words of a recent writer on the his- 
tory of parties in England. " By the absorption 
into the government of almost all its leaders and 
chief orators, the opposition was for some time re- 
duced in Parliament to extreme insignificance. Mr. 
Pitt was now one of the most determined supporters 
of the very measures which the first ten years of his 
parliamentary life had been spent in condemning 
and opposing. Nor did he scruple to avow his 
change of opinion. In reference, for instance, to 
the claim of exemption from search for British ships 
when found near the coast of Spanish America, 
which, urged by the opposition in the time of Sir 
Robert Walpole, had involved the country in a war 
with Spain, and was afterwards abandoned at the 
peace of Aix-la-Chapelle by the government of 
which Pitt was a member, he said in the House of 
Commons that he had indeed once been an advocate 
for that claim ; but it was when he was a young 
man ; he was now ten years older, and having con- 
sidered public affairs more coolly, was convinced it 
could not be maintained. In the same manner very 
much of his old jealousy of military power and of 
the prerogative appears to have evaporated in the 


cooler consideration which he had now been enabled 
to give to such matters. We do not profess to 
doubt the perfect honesty of Mr. Pitt in this change 
of sentiment ; and we may also think that his more 
matured opinions were, upon the whole, more 
rational than those of his fervid and impetuous 
nonage as a politician ; but the facts (which only 
furnish an instance of what has often happened) 
are worth recording as a lesson for such as are 
capable of understanding it." It is to be recollected, 
that the remarkable events of 1745-6 may very well 
have modified Mr. Pitt's opinions with respect to the 
maintenance of a standing army. 

On the death of Henry Pelham, March 6, 1754, 
his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, became First 
Lord of the Treasury. Pitt's wishes certainly 
pointed to the office of Secretary of State, vacated 
by the Duke, but he received no promotion. This 
was excused on the ground of the King's personal 
dislike ; but Pitt felt himself aggrieved ; and having 
neither regard nor respect for the prime minister, 
he gradually placed himself in decided opposition 
to the government. Still he retained his place as 
Paymaster, until November 20, 1755, on which day, 
with his friends Legge and George Grenville, he- 
was dismissed. In opposition, he resumed his for- 
mer activity ; and he had abundant ground for in- 
vective against the incapacity which led to those 
reverses in the Mediterranean, in America, and in 
India, which raised a general cry of indignation 
through the country. The Duke tried in vain to' 
strengthen himself, by making overtures of recon- 
ciliation to Mr. Pitt, and at last resigned, November 
11, 1756. The Duke of Devonshire went to the 
Treasury, Pitt was made Secretary of State, and 
Legge and Grenville both were taken into office. 
This arrangement was short-lived. The King was 


ill-pleased at the way in which the present ministry 
had been forced upon him ; and he had a personal 
dislike to some of them, especially to Pitt, and to the 
first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Temple, who was 
dismissed in April, 1757. Upon this Pitt resigned. 
During the short period of this administration he 
had displayed his vigour and decision in originating 
measures to repair the loss which he had sustained 
in America ; and had endeavoured, but in vain, to 
save the unfortunate Admiral Byng. 

A sort of ministerial interregnum succeeded, and 
lasted until the beginning of June. The King tried 
in vain to construct an administration. Meanwhile 
Pitt was at the height of popularity ; and addresses 
of approbation were showered on him from all parts 
of the kingdom. At last the King was compelled 
to recall him ; and, after considerable negotiation, 
he consented to form a government in union with 
the Duke of Newcastle, whose parliamentary influ- 
ence conferred on him a degree of importance quite 
disproportioned to the weakness of his character. 
Pitt, with the power of Premier, returned to his 
post as Secretary, and the Duke took the office of 
First Lord of the Treasury. 

Pitt found the countiy engaged in an unsuccessful 
war, and hampered with a system of continental 
alliances, against which he had often directed the 
full vigour of his eloquence. By pursuing that 
system he endangered his popularity, and incurred 
tlie charge of having sacrificed his principles to his 
ambition. There is no doubt (and this ought to 
teach us moderation in our censures), that even 
honest men, in administration and in opposition, 
may view the same measures under very different 
aspects. Objectionable as he had thought and called 
that policy, he probably persuaded himself that, 
under existing circumstances, it was inexpedient to 



change it; and he followed it up with an energy 
and decision, which at least led to results very differ- 
ent to those which had disgraced the administration 
of his predecessors. He is reported to have said to 
the Duke of Devonshire, " My Lord, I am sure I 
can save this country, and nobody else can ;" and 
the success which attended him made good one-half 
at least of the boast. France was alarmed by 
frequent, and, on the whole, successful descents upon 
her shores ; our connexion with Frederic of Prussia 
was strengthened and improved ; the plans for the 
expulsion of the French from North America, which 
Pitt had formerly conceived, were now carried into 
effect ; and the result of his judgment in selecting 
officers for foreign service, and of his indefatigable 
care that no preliminary steps were neglected at 
home, was seen in those various successes which 
were crowned by the glorious capture of Quebec, 
and the ultimate cession of Canada by the French. 
In three years he raised England from depression 
and despondency into a situation to give laws to 
Europe ; and during that time he converted into 
confidence and favour that obstinate dislike with 
which George II. had so long regarded him. But 
with the accession of George III., October 25, 1760, 
a new favourite, Lord Bute, rose into power. Pitt 
continued at the head of administration for a time, 
but he found that his counsels had ceased to be the 
mainspring of government ; and having been out- 
voted in the cabinet when he urged the necessity of 
immediately declaring war against Spain, he re- 
signed, October 5, 1761, to use his own words, "in 
order not to remain responsible for measures which 
he was no longer allowed to guide." The King 
bestowed on him a pension of 3000Z., and raised his 
wife to the rank of Baroness Chatham. 

Not many months elapsed before the new minis- 


ters found it absolutely necessary to declare war 
against Spain, the very point upon which Pitt had 
resigned. A general peace was effected by the 
treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1763, by which 
Canada and other French possessions in North 
America were ceded to England, Pitt inveighed 
strongly, more strongly perhaps than was quite fair 
and candid, against the terms of this treaty ; but he 
took no active part to overthrow the existing admi- 
nistration. In August, 1763, the King made over- 
tures to induce him to return to office ; and it is not 
very clearly known upon what account this nego- 
tiation failed. When Wilkes's case brought forward 
the question of general warrants, Pitt took a strong 
part in condemning the use of them. In January, 
1765, he received a second uncommon testimony of 
respect for his public conduct from Sir William 
Pynsent, an aged baronet of ancient family in 
Somersetshire, who, dying, bequeathed to him his 
property, to the amount of nearly 3000/. a-year. 

To the scheme for raising a revenue in America 
Mr. Pitt was very strongly opposed. Illness pre- 
vented his attendance in the House of Commons 
when that scheme was first brought forward ; but in 
his speech on the meeting of parliament, January 
14, 1766, after tidings of the disturbances in Ame- 
rica had been received, he declared his opinion in 
the strongest terms. " It is a long time, Mr. 
Speaker, since I have attended in parliament. 
When the resolution was taken in the House to tax 
America, I was ill in bed. If I could have endured 
to have been carried in my bed, so great was the 
agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would 
have solicited some kind friend to have laid me down 
on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it. 
. . . It is my opinion that this kingdom has no right 
to lay a tax upon the colonies. At the same time 



I assert the authority of this kingdom over tlie colo- 
nies to be sovereign and supreme in every circum- 
stance of government and legislation whatsoever." 
He recommended that the Stamp Act should be 
repealed absolutely and immediately, but that the 
repeal should be accompanied with an assertion of 
the sovereign power of this country over the colonies, 
couched in the strongest terms that could be devised, 
in every point whatsoever, except that of taking 
their money out of their pocket without their con- 
sent. These declarations coincided with the policy 
of the Marquis of Rockingham, who had been sum- 
moned by the King to form an administration in 
July, 1765, and who, without any fault on his side, 
was involved in all the difficulties and dangers which 
resulted from his predecessor's ill-judged scheme for 
taxing America. Mr. Pitt had previously been 
applied to, but declined taking office upon the terms 
proposed ; and he showed a coolness towards the 
Rockingham administration, which appears to have 
been uncalled for by any difference in their political 
opinions, and which, as far as we can conjecture 
from the course of events, was very prejudicial to the 
country. Disliked by the King, slighted by Mr. 
Pitt, whose influence in the nation was at tliis time 
at its height, harassed by a powerful opposition 
which regarded it base to yield to the demands of 
America, the Rockingham government rather fell to 
pieces than was broken up, little more than a year 
after its formation; and Mr. Pitt reached the utmost 
limit of ambition in being commissioned by the King 
to form a ministry, without the smallest limitation 
as to terms, in July, 1766. 

Whatever gratification he may have felt at the 
moment, this high position added neither to his 
glory nor his happiness. It led in the first place to a 
violent quarrel with his most intimate friend and 


political associate, Lord Temple, who felt himself 
slighted by Mr. Pitt's arrangements. Many of the 
most important persons, whose support he desired, 
felt aggrieved by his past conduct, or were offended 
by the haughtiness of his demeanour: Lord Rock- 
ingham, in particular, refused even to grant him an 
interview. And when the government was formed at 
last, it v/as of that ill-assorted and motley character 
which led Burke, in an often-quoted passage of his 
speech on American taxation, to describe it as a 
" tesselated pavement without cement." The Duke 
of Grafton was placed at the Treasury, and for him- 
self Pitt took a peerage and the Privy Seal. The 
astonishment of every body at this was extreme. 
Lord Chesterfield says, " Mr. Pitt, who had a carte 
blanche given him, named every one of them (the 
new ministry); but what would you think he named 
himself for ? — Lord Privy Seal, and (what will as- 
tonish you as it does every mortal here) Earl of 
Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had a fall 
up stairs, and has done himself so much hurt that he 
will never be able to stand upon his legs again. 
Every body is puzzled how to account for this step ; 
though it would not be the first time that great abi- 
lities have been duped by low cunning. But, be it 
what it will, he is now certainly only Earl of Chat- 
ham, and no longer Mr. Pitt in any respect what- 
ever. Such an event, I believe, was never heard nor 
read of. To withdraw in the fulness of his power, 
and in the utmost gratification of his ambition, from 
the House of Commons (which procured him his 
power, and which could alone insure it to him), and 
to go into that hospital of incurables, the House of 
Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that nothing 
but proof positive could have made me believe it ; 
but true it is." 
At this time often recurring paroxysms of gout 



had greatly shattered Lord Chatham's constitution, 
and incapacitated him for that comprehensive super- 
intendence over the affairs of government which he 
had exercised during his former glorious administra- 
tion. Surrounded by a disjointed set of men, fluc- 
tuating in opinion, attached neither to each other 
nor to their chief, it was more than ever necessary 
that the master-hand should retain its wonted dexte- 
rity and power. But the case was very different. 
During the whole session of Parliament in 1767, 
Lord Chatham was prevented from attending to bu- 
siness by illness ; and after the rising of Parliament 
he Avas compelled to inform the King, that " such 
was his ill state of health, that his Majesty must not 
expect from him any further advice or assistance in 
any arrangements whatever." This declaration may 
be considered as equivalent to a resignation ; but 
unfoi'tunately he continued nominally in office until 
October 15, 1768, lending the sanction of his great 
name to a course of policy the reverse of that which 
he had advocated, especially in regard of the renewal 
of the attempt to tax America. On this subject Mr. 
Thackeray remarks, " A greater contrast in the feel- 
ings of the Cabinet and of the nation upon the present 
resignation of Lord Chatham, to those which were 
evinced upon his dismission from office in 1757, and 
upon his retirement in 1761, can hardly be imagined. 
His dismission in 1 757 excited one common cry of en- 
thusiastic admiration towards himself, and of indigna- 
tion against his political opponents. The attention 
not only of Great Britain, but of the whole of Europe, 
was attracted by his resignation in 1761; and, al- 
though the voices of his countrymen were not so uni- 
versally united in his favour as upon the former oc- 
casion, the event was considered as affecting the in- 
terests of nations in the four corners of the globe. 
The resignation of Lord Chatham in 1768 was in 


fact nothing more than the official relinquishment of 
an appointment in which he had long ceased to ex- 
ercise his authority, or to exert his abilities. It was 
expected by the ministry, it was little regarded by 
the people of Great Britain, it was almost unknown 
on the Continent of Europe." 

Repose soon wrought a favourable change in Lord 
Chatham's health, for in 1770 he led the opposition 
in the House of Lords. The proceedings in the 
House of Commons against Mr. Wilkes formed the 
principal topic of his first attack : but he warned the 
House against the fatal tendency of the attempts to 
raise a revenue in America ; and he took occasion, 
at an early period of the session, to express his belief 
of the necessity of introducing some reform into the 
representation of the people, and to proclaim his 
cordial reconciliation and union with the Rocking- 
ham party. At the end of January, to the general 
surprise, the Duke of Grafton resigned ; and Lord 
North succeeding him, formed the first durable ad- 
ministration which had existed since the death of 
Henry Pelham. During the years 1771, 1772, 1773, 
and 1774, Lord Chatham very seldom appeared in 
Parliament. At the beginning of 1775, he made 
two vain attempts to induce the government to offer 
overtures of reconciliation to America: but during 
the greater part of that year, and the whole of 1776, 
the shattered state of his health prevented him from 
taking any part in public affairs. May 30, 1777, he 
came down to the House swathed in flannel, to move an 
address imploring the King to take the most speedy 
and effectual measures for putting a stop to hostilities 
in America, by removing the accumulated grievances 
of that country ; and predicted with his usual energy 
and eloquence, the certain results of the conduct 
which we were pursuing. " You may ravage, you 


cannot conquer ; it is impossible ; you cannot conquer 
the Americans. You talk of your numerous friends 
to annihilate the Congress, and of your powerful 
forces to disperse their army. I might as well talk 
of driving them before me with this crutch. What 
you have sent there are too many to make peace, too 
few to make war. If you conquer them, what then ? 
You cannot make them respect you, you cannot 
make them wear your cloth : you will plant an in- 
vincible hatred in their breasts against you. Coming 
from the stock they do, they can never respect you." 
The events of that year, the capture of Philadelphia, 
and the surrender of Burgoyne, fully justified his 
predictions. These events haJd not been annoimced 
in England in November, when Parliament again 
met ; but in the debate on the Address on the 18th, 
Lord Chatham again raised his warning voice to 
predict the certain failure of the contest in which we 
were engaged. " I love and honour the English 
troops : I know their virtues and their valour : I 
know they can achieve any thing except impossibili- 
ties ; and I know that the conquest of English Ame- 
rica is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to 
say it, you cannot conquer America.'' His speech 
on this occasion fortunately is very fully reported, 
and the records of our Parliament contain none more 

In February, 1778, Lord North announced the 
resolution of government to yield every point in 
question to the Americans, except their nominal 
independence of the crown. To this, little opposition 
was offered in either house ; it probably was the 
line of conduct which Lord Chatham at this late 
hour would have advised. But the Americans had 
declared their independence, and were not now to be 
satisfied with anything short of a formal acknow- 


ledgment of it ; and here the two great sections of 
opposition, the Rockingham and Shelbuz'ne parties, 
were divided. The latter, with Lord Chatham at 
their head, regarded such an acknowledgment as 
the prelude to the total ruin and degradation of the 
country. The former held that it was impossible 
to avoid it at last, and earnestly desired, since the 
colonists could not be retained as subjects, to secure 
their alliance to this country, and not to drive them 
into the arms of France. The Duke of Richmond 
moved an address embodying these views, April 7th, 
a day memorable for the most affecting scene ever 
witnessed within the walls of Parliament. We re- 
late it as nearly as possible from the account com- 
municated to Mr. Seward by an eye-witness, and pub- 
lished in his ' Anecdotes of distinguished Persons.' 
" Lord Chatham came into the House of Lords 
leaning on two friends, wrapped up in flannel, pale 
and emaciated. Within his large wig little more 
was to be seen than his aquiline nose, and his pene- 
trating eye. He looked like a dying man; yet 
never was seen a figure of more dignity ; he appeared 
like a being of superior species. 

" He rose from his seat with slowness and dif- 
ficulty, leaning upon his crutches, and supported 
under each arm by his two friends. He took one 
hand from his crutch, and raised it, casting his eyes 
towards Heaven, and said, ' I thank God that I have 
been enabled to come here this day, to perform my 
duty, and to speak on a subject which has so deeply 
impressed my mind. I am old and infirm — have 
one foot — more than one foot, in the grave. I am 
risen from my bed, to stand up in the cause of my 
country ! — perhaps never again to speak in this 

" The reverence, the attention, the stillness of the 
house, was most affecting : if any one had dropped 



an handkerchief, the noise would have been heard. 
At first he spoke in a A^ery low and feeble tone ; but 
as he grew warm his voice rose, and was as har- 
monious as ever ; oratorical and affecting perhaps 
more than at any former period ; both from his own 
situation and from the importance of the subject on 
which he spoke. He gave the whole history of the 
American war ; of all the measures to which he had 
objected ; and all the evils which he had prophesied 
in consequence of them ; adding, at the end of each, 
'And so it proved,' " He concluded with an ener- 
getic appeal against the " dismemberment of this 
ancient and most noble monarchy." To the Duke 
of Richmond's reply he listened with attention and 
composure : he then rose again, but his strength 
failed, and he feel back in convulsions in the arms 
of the Peers who suiTounded him. The House im- 
mediately adjourned. On the foUowng day the 
Duke of Richmond's motion was negatived. 

Lord Chatham was removed to Hayes, where he 
languished until May 12, 1778, on which day he 
expired. He was honoured with a public funeral, 
and a public monument in Westminster Abbey ; a 
sum of 20,000/. was voted in discharge of his debts ; 
and a pension of 4000Z. a year was annexed to the 
earldom of Chatham. He left five children by his 
wife, Lady Hester Grenville, sister of Earl Temple, 
whom he married November 6, 1 754. He warmly 
loved and was beloved by his family, and in domestic 
life enjoyed all the happiness which unbroken con- 
fidence and harmony can bestow. 

The character of this great man is thus drawn by 
Lord Chesterfield : — " His constitution refused him 
the usual pleasures, and his genius forbade him the 
idle dissipations of youth ; for so early as the age of 
sixteen, he was the martyr of an hereditary gout. 
He therefore employed the leisure which that tedious 




and painful distemper either procured or allowed 
him, in acquiring a great fund of premature and 
useful knowledge. Thus, by the unaccountable re- 
lation of causes and effects, what seemed the greatest 
misfortune of his life, was perhaps the principal 
cause of its splendour. His private life was stained 
by no vice, nor sullied by any meanness. All his 
sentiments were liberal and elevated. His ruling 
passion was an unbounded ambition, which, where 
supported by great abilities, and crowned with great 
success, makes what the world calls a great man. 
He was haughty, imperious, impatient of contradic- 
tion, and overbearing ; qualities which too often 
accompany, but always clog great ones. He had 
manners and address, but one might discover through 
them too gi'eat a consciousness of his own superior 
talents. He was a most agreeable and lively com- 
panion in social life, and had such a versatility of 
wit, that he could adapt it to all sorts of con- 
versation. He had also a happy turn for poetry, 
but he seldom indulged, and seldom avowed it. He 
came young into Parliament, and upon that theatre 
he soon equalled the oldest and the ablest actors. 
His eloquence was of every kind, and he excelled in 
the argumentative, as well as in the declamatory 
way. But his invectives were terrible, and uttered 
with such energy of diction, and such dignity of 
action and countenance, that he intimidated those 
who were the most willing and best able to en- 
counter him. Their arms fell out of their hands, 
and they shrunk under the ascendant which his 
genius gained over theirs." 

Mr. Thackeray's ' History of the Right Hon. 
W. Pitt, Earl of Chatham,' in addition to the fullest 
account of his public and private life, contains 
copious extracts from the reports of his speeches 
and his correspondence. The letters to his nephew, 


afterwards Lord Camelford, deserve notice, as ex- 
hibiting his private character in a very amiable 
light. The same may be said of the letters to his 
son, William Pitt, printed by Dr. Tomline in his life 
of that statesman. 



Carl von Linne commonly called Linnaeus, was 
born at Rashult in the province of Smaland, in 
Sweden, May 24, 1707. His father, the Protestant 
minister of the parish of Stenbrohult, was a collector 
of curious plants ; and Carl soon became acquainted 
with the plants in his father's garden, as well as 
with the indigenous species in the neighbourhood. 
Being intended for the church, he was placed, first 
at the Latin school, and then at the Gymnasium of 
the neighbouring town of Wexio ; but he neglected 
his professional studies to devote himself almost ex- 
clusively to the physical sciences. Botany, which 
was then little cultivated in Sweden, more particu- 
larly engrossed his attention: he formed a small 
library of botanical works, and although unable to 
comprehend some of the authors he possessed, yet 
he continued to read them day and night. He ev 

,'et II 
en II 

LINN.EUS. 291 

learnt some of them by heart, and acquired, among 
his teachers and fellow scholars, the name of the 
Little Botanist. His father, whose object was to fit 
his son for gaining a livelihood in his own sacred 
calling, and who was ill able to defray the expenses 
of a learned education, was greatly mortified by this 
misapplication of time. He determined therefore, 
without wasting, as he considered it, any more 
money, to employ Carl in some manual occupation. 
His design was chang-ed by the interference of Dr. 
Rothman, a physician of Wexio, who advised him, 
instead of forcing his son into a profession for which 
he had no taste, to let him follow the study of medi- 
cine and natural history. Rothman rendered this 
scheme practicable, by taking Carl into his own house 
for a twelvemonth ; during which he instructed the 
youth in physiology, and likewise upon the right 
method of studying his favourite science of botany, 
according to the system of Tournefort. 

Linnaeus was equally fortunate in gaining ad- 
mission into the family of Dr. Stobaeus, professor 
of physic and botany at the University of Lund, 
whither he repaired in 1727. Here he pursued his 
botanical studies with zeal, and acquired the esteem 
and affection of his host. He went to the University 
of Upsal in 1728, by advice of his early friend. Dr. 
Rothman, hoping to obtain some situation in it. 
But he was disappointed j and, his scanty means 
being soon exhausted, he found reason to repent of 
having quitted the friendly roof of Stobaeus, who 
was much offended that a pupil, whom he had 
treated so kindly, should have left the University 
without consulting him. A fortunate incident re- 
lieved him from this state of anxious suspense. 
One day, in the autumn of 1729, while examining 
some plants in the University Garden, he was ac- 
costed by an aged clergyman, Dr. Olaf Celsius ; 


292 • LINNJSUS. 

who, after some inquiry into the nature and extent 
of his botanical studies, received him into his own 
house, and employed him to assist in a work on 
the plants mentioned in Scripture, and to collect 
botanical specimens around Upsal, 

Linnaeus enjoyed great advantages in his new 
situation. He had the full use of an extensive 
library, rich in botanical works ; he lived on most 
familiar terms with his patron, by whom he was in- 
troduced to Dr. Rudbeck, the professor of botany ; 
and Rudbeck, obliged by age to execute the duties 
of his office by deputy, obtained that office for Lin- 
naeus in 1730. The young man's reputation as a 
naturalist was now established in the University ; 
and, in 1731, the Royal Academy of Sciences at 
Upsal deputed him to make a tour through Lapland, 
with the sole view of examining the natural pro- 
ductions of that desolate region. He set out, on 
horseback, May 12, 1732 (O.S.), without incum- 
brances of any kind, and bearing all his luggage at 
his back. In the flower of youth, bold, enterprising, 
and in robust health, he was well adapted to tra- 
verse the wild countries of northern Sweden and 
Lapland, in which he met with some romantic and 
dangerous adventures. When in the districts of 
Pithea and Lulea, on the Gulf of Bothnia, he was 
near perishing from a danger of which he has given 
the following animated account : — 

" Several days ago the forests had been set on 
fire by lightning, and the flames raged at this time 
with great violence, owing to the drought of the 
season. I traversed a space, three quarters of a 
mile in extent, which was entirely burnt, so that the 
place, instead of appearing in her gay and verdant 
attire, was in deep sable : a spectacle more abhor- jj 
rent to my feelings than to see her clad in the white II 
livery of winter. The fire was nearly extinguished 

WNN^us. 293 

in most of the spots we visited, except in ant-hills 
and dry trunks of trees. After we had travelled 
about half a quarter of a mile across one of these 
scenes of desolation, the wind began to blow with 
rather more force, upon which a sudden noise arose 
in the half-burnt forest, such as I can only compare to 
what may be imagined among a large army attacked 
by an enemy: we knew not whither to tumour steps. 
The smoke would not suffer us to remain where we 
stood, nor durst we turn back. It seemed best to 
hasten forward, in hopes of speedily reaching the 
outskirts of the wood ; but in this w^ were disap- 
pointed. We ran as fast as we could, in order to 
avoid being crushed by the falling trees, some of 
which threatened us every minute. Sometimes the 
fall of a huge trunk was so sudden that we stood 
aghast, not knowing whither to turn to escape destruc- 
tion, and throwing ourselves entirely on the protec- 
tion of Providence. In one instance a large tree fell 
exactly between me and my guide, who walked not 
more than a fathom from me ; but, thanks to God ! 
we both escaped in safety. We were not a little re- 
joiced when this perilous adventure ended, for we 
had felt all the time like a couple of outlaws in 
momentary fear of surprise." 

In the space of five months Linnaeus performed, 
mostly on foot, a journey of 3798 English miles, 
and with the approach of winter he returned to 
Upsal. On that occasion he was admitted a 
member of the Academy, and received about ten 
pounds for his expenses. The ' Flora Lapponica' 
was the result of this journey. Scarce recovered 
from the fatigues of this tour through Lapland, he 
again felt the pressure of poverty. He commenced 
a course of lectures on the assaying of metals, but 
his success excited the jealousy of Dr. Rosen, the 
successor of Dr. Rudbeck, who insisted that, in con- 


formity with the statutes, Linnaeus should no longer 
be allowed to lecture. The Senate had no choice 
but to enforce the statutes, and this severe blow 
deprived Linnaeus of all present means of advance- 
ment. He quitted Upsal, and took up his residence 
at Fahlun, the capital of Dalecarlia, where he gave 
lectures on assaying to the copper miners of that dis- 
trict. In 1735, having saved a small sum of money, 
he resolved to travel, and take a medical degree at 
some foreign university. He bent his course through 
Hamburgh to Holland, and obtained the degree of 
M.D. at the little University of Harderwych. He 
gained the friendship of Gronovius and Boerhaave, 
by whom he was strongly urged to settle in Holland, 
then in the height of its commercial prosperity. 
But Linnaeus' mind was set upon returning to Swe- 
den, where he had formed an attachment to the 
eldest daughter of Dr. Moraeus, a physician at 
Fahlun. Intending to pass homewards through 
Amsterdam, he obtained from Boerhaave an in- 
troduction to an eminent botanist, Dr. Burman, with 
whom he resided for a short time. During this 
visit he became acquainted with Mr. Cliflford, a rich 
burgomaster of Amsterdam, who had a magnificent 
country-seat and garden at Hartecamp, near Haar- 
lem. This gentleman wished for the assistance of a 
man who could arrange his collections of natural 
history, and put his garden into order. Linnaeus 
entered into his employment in this capacity, and 
the connexion proved equally satisfactory to both 

In 1736 Linnaeus made a tour to England at the 
expense of Mr. Clifford, who wished him to inspect 
the gardens of our country, and to communicate with 
the eminent botanists then alive. The English pro- 
fessors were warmly attached to the system of Ray ; 
but Dillenius, the botanical professor at Oxford, was 

LINN^US. 295 

so impressed with the talents of Linnaeus, that he 
urged him to take up his residence there, offering 
to share the profits of his professorship with him. 
Professor Martyn of Cambridge, Miller, Collinson, 
&c., held friendly intercourse with him, and he 
returned to Holland with the most favourable im- 
pressions of the scientific men in England. Con- 
trary to the wishes of Mr. Clifford he left Harte- 
camp towards the close of 1737, with the intention 
of returning to Sweden. No stronger proof can be 
given of the estimation in which Linnseus was held 
in Holland than the regard expressed for him by 
Boerhaave, even on his death-bed. Before the time 
of Linnaeus' intended departure from Leyden, Boer- 
haave became too ill to admit visitors. Linnaeus 
was the only person in whose favour an exception 
was made, that the dying physician might bid him 
an affectionate farewell. " I have lived," he said, 
" my time out, and my days are at an end ; I have 
done every thing that was in my power : May God 
protect thee ! What the world required of me it has 
got ; but from thee it expects much more. Fare- 
well, my dear Linnaeus !" 

When upon the point of leaving Leyden, Linnaeus 
was attacked by illness ; and upon his recovery he 
determined to visit Paris before his return to Sweden. 
At Paris he experienced great kindness from the 
Jussieus ; and he received the high compliment of 
being elected a corresponding member of the Aca- 
demy of Sciences. 

In the summer of 1738 he embarked at Rouen 
for Helsingburg. Soon after his arrival in Sweden 
he married the lady to whom he had been so long 

Dr. Pulteney, in his "View of the Writings of 
Linnaeus," gives a full account of the numerous 
publications put forth by him during his residence 



in Holland, and adds, — " It is scarcely to be con- 
ceived how this great man found time to finish so 
many works, any one of which would have been 
sufficient for establishing his character as a bota- 
nist." The most important of these were the 
" Systema Naturae," 1735, and the " Genera Plan- 
tarum," 1737, in which the sexual system of plants 
is fully developed. 

In 1738 Linnaeus settled as a physician at Stock- 
holm, where he met with so much opposition, that 
he almost resolved to quit his native country. But 
by perseverance he worked his way into practice ; 
and he was fortunate enough to be employed by the 
Queen of Sweden. In 1739 he contributed, with 
some other spirited persons, to form an Academy at 
Stockholm, of which he was elected President. 

His professional success did not lead him aside 
from his favourite studies ; and he kept his eye 
steadily on the great object of his ambition, the bo- 
tanical chair at Upsal. In 1741 he was appointed 
medical professor. He soon entered into an agree- 
ment with Professor Rosen to allow him to perform 
the duties of the botanical chair, while his colleague 
lectured on physiology and other subjects. Before 
entering on the duties of his professorship, he pro- 
nounced a Latin oration before the University, " On 
the Necessity of Travelling in our own Countiy." 

Linnaeus was now placed in the situation which of 
all things he had most coveted. The academical 
garden was soon laid out on a new plan. When he 
was appointed professor, it did not contain above 
fifty exotic plants. In 1748, six years afterwards, 
he published a catalogue, from which it appears that 
he had introduced eleven hundred, besides the ve- 
getable productions of Sweden itself. 

He now applied to all his correspondents for 
plants; and, Amting to Albert Haller, he says, 

LINN^US. 297 

" Formerly I had plants, but no money ; and now, 
of what use is my money without plants?" His ex- 
ertions so much extended the fame of the University, 
that the number of students considerably increased, 
particularly during the time he held the office of 
rector. They came from Russia, Norway, Denmark, 
Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and 
even from America. He made summer excursions 
attended by his pupils, often to the number of two 
hundred. When some rare or remarkable plant, or 
other natural curiosity was found, a signal was 
given by a horn, at which the whole party assembled 
round their leader. 

Linnaeus published his " Amoenitates Academicse," 
" Philosophia Botanica," and " Species Plantarum," 
respectively in 1749, 1751, and 1753. Of these, the 
first is a collection of treatises on various subjects ; 
the second is the foundation of the Linnaean system 
of botany, and from it most of our popular introduc- 
tions have been compiled ; the third is termed by 
Haller, "Maximum opus, et seternum !" In this 
work he first employed trivial words as specific 
names ; thus, the species of every genus is designated 
by a single epithet, expressive of some obvious cha- 
racter, and the tiresome plan of quoting an entire 
description to distinguish the species was abandoned. 
His fame had now rapidly increased, and his scien- 
tific connexions and correspondence with foreign 
countries had become very extensive. 

In 1753 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal 
Society of London ; and in the same year his sove- 
reign, Gustavus III., bestowed upon him a most 
flattering mark of his regard, by creating him a 
Knight of tlie Polar Star. This order had never 
before been conferred on any literary character; nor 
had any person below the rank of a nobleman been 
honoured with it. Foreign countries were not back- 


298 UNNiEUS. 

ward in testifying their sense of his merits : he was 
a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of 
Paris, of St. Petersburgh, and of Berlin ; and there 
was hardly a learned body in Europe but was 
anxious to enrol his name among their numbers. 
The most flattering compliment which he received 
was from the King of Spain, who invited him to set- 
tle at Madrid, with an offer of the annual pension for 
life of 2000 pistoles, letters of nobility, and the free 
exercise of his own religion. He, however, did not 
accept of this offer, but answered, that if he had any 
merit, his services were due to his own country. 

The University of Upsal had now become an ob- 
ject of curiosity : strangers were attracted there, and 
prolonged their stay, solely with the view of becom- 
ing acquainted with Linnaeus. Among other visi- 
tors, the Earl of Macartney, when he was English 
Minister at St. Petersburgh, went from that city on 
purpose to visit him. His writings were soon appre- 
ciated in foreign countries, and his system was first 
publicly taught in our own by Professor Martyn, in 
the University of Cambridge. His pupils spread 
themselves over the globe ; they carried everywhere 
with them the spirit of their master, and diffused 
the love of natural history. When Captain Cook's 
first voyage was undertaken, one of Linnseus's most 
celebrated pupils, Dr. Solander, accompanied Mr. 
Banks in the capacity of naturalist. It was not, 
however, from his pupils alone that Linuceus received 
information ; in every part of the world persons 
were found anxious to forward specimens to him, 
and his collections thus became unrivalled. 

The introduction of the Linnaean system was at- 
tended with such great change, especially of nomen- 
clature, that it experienced considerable opposition 
from the older naturalists; and the biographers of 
Linnaeus have recorded several literary feuds with 

LINN^US. 299 

distinguished contemporaries, and especially with 
Albert Haller, a genius of equal merit with himself. 

The latter years of Linnaeus were spent in a state 
of ease, affluence, and honour, very different from the 
poverty and obscurity of his early life. He was one 
of those great men, who have shown by example how 
much the genius and activity of an individual are 
capable of accomplishing. He was the reformer of 
botany, and perhaps the greatest promoter of natural 
history that ever lived; and so much has never been 
done for that science, in so short a space of time, as 
at the period he flourished, and immediately after. 

In 1773 the reigning King of Sweden appointed 
him, in conjunction with others, to make a new 
translation of the Bible into the Swedish language. 
In the month of May, 1774, whilst lecturing in the 
Botanical Garden, he was attacked by apoplexy, the 
debilitating effects of which obliged him to relinquish 
the more active parts of his professional duties, and 
to close his literary career. In 1776 a second apo- 
plectic fit paralysed his right side and impaired his 
mental powers. Even in this painful and miserable 
state the study of nature remained his greatest plea- 
sure, and he was constantly carried into his museum 
to survey the treasures there accumulated. He died 
January 10, 1778, in the seventy- first year of his 

On his death a general mourning took place at 
Upsal. A medal was struck upon the occasion, and 
a monument erected to his memory in the cathedral 
church of Upsal. The King of Sweden himself pro- 
nounced a panegyric on his distinguished subject be- 
fore the Royal Academy of Sweden. 

Nature was eminently liberal in the endowments 
of Linnseus's mind. He had a lively imagination ; 
a correct judgment, guided by the strict laws of sys- 
tem ; a most retentive memory, and unremitting in- 

300 LINNiEUS, 

dustry. He laboured to inspire the great and opu- 
lent with a taste for natural history, and he wished 
particularly that ecclesiastics should have some know- 
ledge of it. He thought such knowledge would 
sweeten retirement, and that pastors had great op- 
portunities for observing nature. He was decidedly 
religious himself, and not one of his greater works 
begins or ends without some passage expressive of 
admiration for the Supreme Creator. 

His strength and weakness alike consisted in a 
rigid adherence to system. He arranged, according 
to a system of his own invention, all natural objects, 
from man down to the simple crystals. The Lin- 
naean school is more fitted to arrange and describe 
the materials of science than to extend its bounda- 
ri*. Its pupils have too rigidly adhered to a sys- 
tem which is ill adapted to our increased sphere of 

In botany, the merits of Linnaeus were transcen- 
dent. He found it a chaos, and reduced it to a sj's- 
tem, which enabled the student to study it with ease. 
The great objection to his arrangement, founded on 
the sexual parts of plants, is, that it is artificial, and 
has rather retarded the knowledge of a system more 
philosophical, and in stricter accordance with the 
rules of nature. The labours of the Jussieus and De 
CandoUe have done much to introduce a better sys- 
tem ; but much still is wanting to complete it. 

After the death of Linnaeus's only son, in Novem- 
ber, 1783, the late eminent botanist, Sir James 
Smith, purchased his museum of natural history, 
books, and manuscripts, for 1029Z. This collection 
consisted of nearly every thing possessed by the great 
Linnaeus and his son. Sir James Smith directed in 
his will that these treasures should be offered, after 
his own death, to the Linnaean Society of London. 
They were accordingly purchased by that body for 



3000 guineas ; and are now placed in the Society's 
rooms in London. 

This Memoir is compiled almost entirely from a 
Life of Linnaeus written for the Society for the Dif- 
fusion of Useful Knowledge, and from the article 
' Linnspus,' in the ' Biographie Universelle,' by the 
late Baron Cuvier. 

[I,:iiii;tus ill his Lailaml iliess-] 


Francois Marie Arouet, who is commonly known 
by his assumed name, De Voltaire, was born at 
Chatenay, near Sceaux, February 20, 1694. He 
soon distinguished himself as a child of extraor- 
dinary abilities. The Abbe de Chateauneuf, his 
godfather, took charge of the elements of his edu- 
cation, and laboured successfully to improve the 
talents of his ready pupil without much regard to 
his morals. At three years old the future champion 
of infidelity had learned by heart the Moisade, an 
irreligious poem of J. B. Rousseau. These lessons 
were not forgotten at college, where he passed 
rapidly through the usual courses of study, and 
alarmed his Jesuit preceptors by the undisguised 
licence of his opinions. . About this time some of 
his first attempts at poetry obtained for him the 
notice of Ninon de I'Enclos ; and when the Abbe 

VOLTAIRE. ' 303 

de Chateauneuf, who had been the last in her long 
list of favourites, introduced him at her house, she 
was so pleased with the promising talents of the 
boy, that she left him by will a legacy of 2000 
francs to purchase books. The Ecole de Droit, 
where Arouet next studied, was much less suited to 
his disposition than the College of Louis le Grand. 
In vain his father urged him to undertake the 
drudgery of a profession: the Abbt5 was a more 
agreeable monitor, and under his auspices the young 
man sought with eagerness the best Parisian society. 
At the suppers of the Prince de Conti he became 
acquainted with wits and poets, acquired the easy 
tone of familiar politeness, and distinguished himself 
by the delicacy of his flatteries, and the liveliness of 
his repartee. In 1713 he went to Holland as page 
to the French ambassador, the Marquis de ChS,teau- 
neuf. This place had been solicited by his father 
in the hope of detaching him from dissipated habits. 
But little was gained by the step, for in a short 
tiiTie he was sent back to his family, in consequence 
of an intrigue with a M"*' Du Noyer, whose mother, 
a Protestant refugee at the Hague, gained her 
living by scandal and libels, and on this occasion 
thought something might be got by complaining to 
the ambassador, and printing young Arouet's love- 
letters. He was, however, not easily discouraged. 
He endeavoured to interest the Jesuits in his affairs, 
by representing M"""' Du Noyer as a ready convert, 
whom it would be Catholic charity to snatch from 
the influence of an apostate mother. This manoeu- 
vre having failed, he sought a reconciliation with his 
father, who remained a long while implacable ; but 
touched at last by his son's entreaties to be permitted 
to see him once more, on condition of leaving the 
country immediately afterwards for America, he 
consented to receive him into favour. Arouet again 


attempted legal studies, but soon abandoned them 
in disgust. The Regency had now commenced; 
and among the numerous satires directed against 
the memory of Louis XIV., one was attributed to 
him. The report caused him a year's imprisonment 
in the Bastille. Soon afterwards he changed the 
name of Arouet for that of Voltaii-e. " I have 
been unhappy,'' he said, "so long as I bore the 
first : let us see if the other will bring better for- 
tune." It seemed indeed that it did so, for in 1718 
the tragedy of QEdipe was represented, and esta- 
blished the reputation of its author. It had been 
principally composed in the Bastille, where he also 
laid the foundation of his Henriade, which occupied 
the time he could spare from amorous and political 
intrigue, until 1724. Desiring to j)ublish it, he 
submitted the poem to some select friends, men of 
severe taste, who met at the house of the President 
de Maisons. They found so many faults that the 
author threw the manuscript into the fire. The 
President Henault rescued it with difficulty, and 
said, " Young man, your haste has cost me a pair of 
best lace ruffles : why should your poem be better 
than its hero, who was full of faults, yet none of us 
like him the worse ?" Surreptitious copies spread 
rapidly, and gained for the author much both of 
celebrity and envy. But it displeased two powerful 
classes : the priests were apprehensive of its religious, 
the courtiers of its political, tendency; insomuch 
that the publication was prohibited by government, 
and the young king refused to accept the dedication. 
Soon after this, Voltaire was sent again to the Bas- 
tille, in consequence of a quarrel with the Chevalier 
de Rohan : and on his liberation, he was banished 
to England. There he remained three years, per- 
haps the most important era of his life, for it gave 
an entirely neAV direction to his lively mind. Hi- 


therto a wit, and a writer of agreeable verse, he 
became in England a philosopher. Returning to 
France in 1720, he brought with him an admiration 
of our manners, and a knowledge of our best writers, 
which visibly influenced his own compositions and 
those of his contemporaries. He now published 
several poetical and dramatic pieces with variable 
success ; but he was more than once forced to quit 
Paris by the clamour and persecution of his enemies. 
After the failure of one of his plays, Fontenelle and 
some other literary associates seriously advised him 
to abandon the drama, as less suited to his talent 
than the light style of fugitive poetry in which he 
had uniformly succeeded. He answered them by 
writing Zaire, which was acted with great applause 
in 1732. He had already published his history of 
Charles XII. : that of Peter the Great was written 
much later in life. The Lettres Philosophiques, 
secretly printed at Rouen, and rapidly circulating, 
increased his popularity, and the zeal of his enemies. 
This work was burnt by the comntion hangman. 
About this time commenced that celebrated intimacy 
with Emilie Marquise du Chatelet, which for nearly 
twenty years stimulated and guided his genius. 
Love made him a mathematician. In the studious 
leisure of Cirey, under the auspices of " la sublime 
Emilie," he plunged himself into the most abstract 
speculations, and acquired a new title to fame by 
publishing the Elements of Newton in 1738, and 
contending for a prize proposed by the Academy of 
Sciences. At the same time he produced in rapid 
succession Alzire, Mahomet, and Merope. His fame 
was now become European. Frederic of Prussia, Sta- 
nislaus, and other sovereigns, honoured him with 
their, or were honoured by his, correspondence. But 
the peqietual intrigues of his enemies at home 
deprived him of repose, and even at Cirey he was 


not always free from troubles and altercations. 
Upon the death of Madame du Chatelet, in 1749, 
he accepted the often urged invitation of Frederic, 
and took up his residence at the Court of Berlin. 
But the friendship of the king and the philosopher 
was not of long duration. A violent quarrel with 
the geometrician, Maupertuis, who was also living 
under the protection of Frederic, ended, after some 
ineffectual attempts at accommodation, ia Voltaire's 
departure from Frederic's society and dominions 
(1733). He had just published his Siecle de Louis 
XIV., which was shortly followed by the Essai sur 
les Moeurs. After a few more wanderings, for the 
versatility of his talent seemed to require a corre- 
sponding variety of abode, Voltaire finally fixed him- 
self at Ferney, near Geneva, in the sixty-fifth year 
of his eventful life, and began to enjoy at leisure his 
vast reputation. From all parts of Europe strangers 
undertook pilgrimages to this philosophic shrine. 
Sovereigns took pride in corresponding with the 
Patriarch, as he was called by the numerous sect of 
free-thinkers, and self-styled philosophers, who 
looked up to him as their teacher and leader. The 
Society of Philosophers at Paris, now employed in 
their great work, the Encyclopaedia, which, from 
the moment of its ill-judged prohibition by the 
government, had assumed the character of an anti- 
ohristian manifesto, looked up to Voltaire as the 
acknowledged chief of their party. He furnished 
some of the most important articles in the work. 
His whole mind seemed now to be bent on one 
object, the subversion of the Christian religion. 
Innumerable miscellaneous compositions, diifereiit 
in form, and generally anonymous, indeed often dis- 
avowed, were marked by this pernicious tendency. 
*' 1 am tired," he is reported to have said, " of hear- 
ing it repeated that twelve men were sufficient to 


found Christianity : I will show the world that one 
is sufficient to destroy it !" Half a century has 
elapsed, and the event has not justified the truth of 
this boast : he mistook his own strength, as many 
other unbelievers have done. These impious extra- 
vagances were not, however, the only occupation of 
the twenty years which intervened between Voltaire's 
establishment at Ferney and his death. In the 
defence of Sirven, Lally, Labarre, Galas, and others, 
who at several times were objects of unjust con- 
demnation by the judicial tribunals, he exerted him- 
self with a zeal as indefatigable as it was meritorious. 
Ferney, under his protection, grew to a considerable 
village, and the inhabitants learned to bless the 
liberalities of their patron. His mind continued to 
be embittered by literary quarrels, the most memo- 
rable being that with J; J. Rousseau, commemorated 
in his poem, entitled ' Guerre Civile de Geneve' 
(1768), He hated this unfortunate exile, as a 
rival, as an enthusiast, and as a friend, compara- 
tively speaking, to Christianity. Nor were these 
his only disquietudes. The publication of the in- 
famous poem of La Pucelle, which he suffered in 
strict confidence to circulate among his intimate 
friends, and which was printed by the treachery of 
some of them, gave him much uneasiness. For its 
indecency and impiety he might not have cared : but 
all who had oflPended him, authors, courtiers, even 
the king and his mistress, were abused in it in the 
grossest manner, and Voltaire had no ^vish to pro- 
voke the arm of power. He had recourse to his 
usual process of disavowal, and as he could not 
deny the whole, he asserted that the offensive parts 
had been intercalated by his enemies. In other 
instances his zeal outran discretion, and affected his 
comforts by producing apprehension for his safety. 
Sometimes a panic terror of assassination took pos- 


session of him, and it needed all the gentleness and 
assiduities of his adopted daughter, Madame de 
Varicourt, to whom he was tenderly attached, to 
hring back his usual levity of mind. At length, in 
1778, Voltaire, yielding to the entreaties of his 
favourite niece, Madame Denis, came to Paris, 
where at the theatre he was greeted by a numerous 
assemblage in a manner resembling the crowning of 
an Athenian dramatic poet, more than any modern 
exhibition of popular favour. Borne back to his 
hotel amidst the acclamations of thousands, the aged 
man said feebly, " You are suffocating me with 
roses." He did not indeed long survive this festival. 
Continued study, and the immoderate use of coffee, 
renewed a stranguary to which he had been subject, 
and he died May 30, 1778. He was interred with 
the rites of Christian worship, a point concerning 
which he had shown some solicitude, in the Abbaye 
de Scellieres. In 1791 his remains were removed 
by the Revolutionists, and deposited with great pomp 
in the Pantheon. 

It is difficult, within our contracted limits, to give 
an accurate character of Voltaire. In versatility of 
powers, and in variety of knowledge, he stands un- 
rivalled: but he might have earned a better and 
more lasting name, had he concentrated his talents 
and exertions on fewer subjects, and studied them 
more deeply. It has been truly and wittily observed 
that " he half knew every thing, from the cedar of 
Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall ; and he wrote 
of them all, and laughed at them all." Of the 
feeling of veneration, either for God or man, he 
seems to have been incapable. He thought too 
highly of himself to look up to anything. Capri- 
cious, passionate, and generally selfish, he was yet 
accessible to sudden impulses of generosity. He 
was an acute rather than a subtle thiixker. Perliaps 


in the whole compass of his philosophical works 
tliere is not to be found one original opinion, or 
entirely new argument ; but no man ever was en- 
dowed with so happy a facility for illustrating the 
thoughts of others, and imparting a lively clearness 
to the most abstruse speculations. He brought 
philosophy from the closet into the drawing-room. 
Eminently skilled to detect and satirize the faults 
and follies of mankind, his love of ridicule was too 
strong for his love of truth. He saw the ludicrous 
side of opinions in a moment, and often unfortunately 
could see nothing else. His alchymy was directed 
towards transmuting the imperfect metals into dross. 
All enthusiasm, eagerness of belief, magnifying of 
probabilities through the medium of excited feeling, 
all that makes a sect as well in its author as its fol- 
lowers, these things were simply foolish in his es- 
timation. It is impossible to gather from his works 
any connected system of philosophy : they are full of 
contradictions ; but the pervading principle which 
gives them some form of coherence is a rancorous 
aversion to Christianity. As a Deist believing in a 
God, " remunerateur vengeur," but proscribing all 
established worship, Voltaire occupies a middle po- 
sition between Rousseau on the one hand, who, 
while he avowed scepticism as to the proofs, pro- 
fessed reverence for the characteristics of Revealed 
Religion, and Diderot on the other, with his fa- 
natical crew of Atheists, who laughed not without 
reason at their Patriarch of Ferney, for imagining 
that he, whose life had been spent in trying to un- 
settle the religious opinions of mankind, could fix 
the point at which unbelief should stop. The dra- 
matic poems of Voltaire retain their place among 
the first in their language, but his other poetical 
works have lost much of the reputation they once 
enjoyed. He paints with fidelity and vividness the 
broad lineaments of passion, and excels in that light, 



allusive style, which brings no image or sentiment 
into strong relief, and is therefore totally unlike the 
analytic and picturesque mode of delineation, to 
which in this country, and especially in this age, we 
are apt to limit the name and prerogatives of ima- 
gination. As a novelist, he has seldom been equal- 
led in wit and profligacy. As an historian, he may 
be considered one of the first who authorised the 
modem philosophising manner, treating history ra- 
ther as a reserA'^oir of facts for the illustration of 
moral science, than as a department of descriptive 
art. He is often inaccurate, and seldom profound, 
but always lively and interesting. On the whole, 
however the general reputation of Voltaire may rise 
or fall with the fluctuations of public opinion, he 
must continue to deserve admiration as 

"The wonder of a learned age; the line 
Which none could pass; the wittiest, clearest pen ; 
The voice tnost echoed by consenting men ; 
The soul, frhirh answer'd best to all well said 
By others, and which most requital made." — Cleveland. 


James Cook was bom October 27, 1728, at Mar- 
ton, a village in the North Riding of Yorkshire, near 
Stockton-upon-Tees. His parents, who were farm- 
sen'ants, of good esteem in their rank of life, appren- 
ticed him when not thirteen years of age to a haber- 
dasher at tlie fishing town of Staith, near Whitby. 
The employment proved ill suited to his taste, and 
he soon quitted it, and bound himself to a ship-owner 
at Whitby. In course of time he became mate of 
one of his master's vessels in the coal trade ; that 
best of schools for practical seamanship. 

In the spring of 1755 he was lying in the Thames, 
when war was declared between England and France, 
and a hot press for seamen ensued. He volunteered 
to serve on board the Eagle frigate, commanded by 
Captain, afterwards Sir Hugh Palliser, and soon won 
the esteem of his officers by his diligence and acti- 
vity. In May, 1759, he was promoted to be master 
of the Mercury, in which he was present at the cele- 

312 COOK. 

brated siege of Quebec. At the recommendation of 
Captain Palliser, he was employed to take soundings 
of the river St. Lawrence, opposite to, and prepara- 
torv to an attack on the French fortified camp ; and 
in this hazardous service he manifested so much sa- 
gacity and resolution, that he was afterwards or- 
dered to survey the river below Quebec. The accu- 
rate chart, which was published as the result of his 
labours, furnishes a most satisfactorj'^ proof of Cook's 
natural talents and steady industry ; for he could 
have derived little aid in such pursuits from the 
habits of his early life. In the autumn he was re- 
moved into the Northumberland man-of-war, sta- 
tioned at Halifax, in Nova Scotia ; and he emploj'ed 
his leisure during the long winter in making up for 
the defects of his education, which had been merely 
such as a village school could supply. He now read 
Euclid for the first time, and applied himself to study 
those branches of science, which promised to be 
most useful in his profession. Towards the end of 
1'762 he returned to England, and married ; but in 
1763 he again went out to make a survey of New- 
foundland. In 1764, his steady friend. Sir Hugh 
Palliser, being appointed Governor of Newfoundland, 
Cook was made Marine Sun'eyor of Newfoundland 
and Labrador. He held this office nearly four 
years, and his charts of those coasts remain in use up 
to this day. 

In 1767 Government determined, at the request of 
the Royal Society, to send out astronomers to the 
South Pacific Ocean to observe the transit of Venus 
across the sun's disc. Cook's able discharge of his 
duties at Newfoundland, and the skill with which he 
observed an eclipse of the sun there, pointed him out 
to Mr. Stephens, Secretary to the Admiralty, as a 
proper person to conduct the expedition : and at that 
gentleman's recommendation, backed by Sir Hugh 

COOK. 313 

Palllser, he was selected for this purpose, and raised 
to the rank of Lieutenant. He sailed from Plymouth, 
August 23, 1768, in the Endeavour, of three hundred 
and seventy tons, accompanied by Mr. Green as as- 
tronomer, and by Mr. Banks. Passing round Cape 
Horn, they anchored, April 11, 1769, at Otaheite, or 
Tahiti, as it is named by the latest visitors, which 
had been discovered by Captain Wallis, and was 
now selected as a proper place to observe the transit. 
As it was necessary to remain some time on the 
island, and highly expedient to be on good terms with 
the natives. Lieutenant Cook used much precaution 
to place the traffic between them and the strangers 
on an equitable footing, and to prevent the wanton 
injuries which the sense of superior power, and an 
unjust contempt, too often induce Europeans to in- 
flict upon the rude inhabitants of newly-discovered 
regions. And we may here mention, as one of the 
good points of Cook's character, that he always 
showed a scrupulous regard to the rights of property, 
taking no articles from the natives except on fair 
terms of gift or barter ; and that he had a tender re- 
gard for human life, not only avoiding to use our 
deadly weapons, as discoverers have too often done, 
in revenge for petty depredations, harmless insults, 
and contemptible attacks, but even restraining a na- 
tural curiosity, where the indulgence of it seemed 
likely to shock prejudices, or to lead to collision and 
bloodshed. The inhabitants of Otaheite are a gentle 
race, and no serious misunderstandings occurred 
between them and their visitors. The transit was 
satisfactorily observed June 3 ; and July 13 the En- 
deavour resumed her voyage, pursuant to Cook's in- 
structions, which were to prosecute his discoveries in 
the Southern Ocean, after the astronomical purposes 
of the expedition had been fulfilled. He cruised a 
month among the then unknown group of the Society 


314 COOK. 

Islands, and afterwards proceeded in search of the 
Terra Australis, the great southern continent, so long 
supposed by geographers to exist, as a necessary 
counterpoise to the extensive continents of the north- 
ern hemisphere. Land was seen October 6, display- 
ing lofty ranges of mountains ; and it was generally 
supposed that the long-\\ashedfor discovery Avas made. 
It proved, however, to be New Zealand, unvisitedby 
Europeans since Tasman first approached its shores, 
in 1642. Cook spent six months in circumnavigat- 
ing this country, and ascertained that it consisted of 
two large islands. March 31, 1770, he commenced 
his voyage home. He directed his course along the 
eastern coast of New Holland, then quite unknown ; 
laid down a chart of it through nearly its whole ex- 
tent ; and took every opportunity to increase our 
stock of knowledge in natural history, as well as geo- 
graphical science. For more than 1300 miles he 
had safely navigated this most dangerous shore, 
where the sharp coral reefs rise like a wall to the 
surface of the water, when, on the night of June 10, 
the ship suddenly struck. She was found to be 
aground on a coral reef, which rose around her to 
within a few feet of the surface. Though lightened 
immediately by every possible means, two tides 
elapsed before she could begot off; and then with so 
much injury to her bottom, that she could only be kept 
afloat by working three pumps night and day. When 
the men were all but worn out by this labour, a mid- 
shipman suggested the expedient oi fotliering the 
ship, or passing a sail charged with oakum, and 
other loose materials, under her keel : which suc- 
ceeded so well, that the leak was then kept under by 
a single pump ; and the navigators proceeded in com- 
parative security till the 14th, when a harbour was 
discovered, afterwards named Endeavour River, suit- 
able for making the necessary repairs. It was then 

COOK. 315 

found that a large fragment of coral rock had stuck 
in the ship's bottom, so as in great measure to close 
the leak, which must otherwise set the pumps at de- 
fiance. To this providential occurrence they owed 
their safety ; for, had the ship foundered, the boats 
could not have contained the whole crew. Among 
many dangers, Cook pursued his course through 
that intricate tract of reefs and islands, which he 
named the Labyrinth, to the northern point of New 
Holland ; and having now explored the whole eas- 
tern coast, from lat. 38° to 10° 30', he took posses- 
sion of it by the name of New South Wales. He 
then made sail for New Guinea, having proved that 
•New Guinea and New Holland are separate islands, 
and from thence proceeded to Batavia, which he 
reached October 9. Here they obtained refreshments 
and repaired the ship, which was found to be in a 
most perilous state : but these advantages were dearly 
bought by a sojourn in that pestilential place. Seven 
persons died at Batavia, and twenty-three more dur- 
ing the voyage to the Cape. June 12, 1771, the 
Endeavour dropped anchor in the Downs, and termi- 
nated her long and adventurous voyage. 

The manner in which Lieutenant Cook had per- 
formed his task gave perfect satisfaction, and he 
was promoted to the rank of Commander. The 
public curiosity was strongly roused to know the 
particulars of his adventures ; and it was gratified 
by an account of the several expeditions to the 
Southern Ocean, commanded by Byron, Wallis, and 
Cook, composed by Dr. Hawkesworth from the 
original materials, and illustrated by charts and 
plates, engraved at the expense of Government. 
Cook communicated to the Royal Society an ' Ac- 
count of the flowing of the Tides iii the South Sea,' 
published in their Transactions, vol. Ixii. His 

yage had proved two things: first, that neither 



316 COOK. 

New Zealand or New Holland were parts of the 
great southern continent, supposing it to exist; 
secondly, that no such continent could exist to the 
northward of 40° S. lat. He had not, however, as- 
certained its non-existence in higher latitudes, nor 
did it enter into his commission to do so. Now, 
however, it was resolved to send out a second expe- 
dition, to ascertain this point, under the command 
of him who had so ably conducted the former one. 
Two ships were fitted out with every thing conducive 
to the health and comfort of the voyagers : the 
Resolution, of four hundred and sixty tons, and a 
smaller vessel, the Adventure, Captain Furneaux; 
which, however, was separated from her consort 
early in the second year of the voyage. They 
sailed from Plymouth, July, 13, 1772. Captain 
Cook's instructions were to circumnavigate the 
globe in high southern latitudes, prosecuting his 
discoveries as near to the South Pole as possible, 
using every exertion to fall in with the supposed 
continent, or any island which might exist in those 
unknown seas ; and endeavouring, by all proper 
means, to cultivate a fi-iendship and alliance with 
the inhabitants. The expedition left the Cape of 
Good, Hope Nov. 22, and cruised, for near four 
months, between the Cape and New Zealand, from 
E. long. 20° to 170°, their extreme point to the 
southward being lat. 67° 15', Having satisfied him- 
self that no land of great extent could exist between 
these longitudes, to the northward of 60° S. lat.. 
Cook made sail for New Zealand to refresh his 
crew, and reached it March 26, 1773. The winter 
months, corresponding to our midsummer, he spent 
at the Society Islands ; and returning to New Zea- 
land, he again sailed, November 26, in quest of a 
southern continent, inclining his course to the east. 
He first fell in with ice in lat. 62° 10', W. long. 

COOK. 317 

172°, and continued to steer S.E. to lat. 67° 31', 
W. long. 142° 54', when finding it impossible at 
that time to get farther south, he returned north- 
wards, as far as lat. 50°, tliat he might be certain 
that no extensive country had been left in that 
direction. January 6, 1774, he again shaped his 
course southward, and on the 30th reached his ex- 
treme point of southing, lat. 71° 10', W. long. 106° . 
54'. Here he was stopped by ice, which it was the 
general opinion might extend to the Pole, or join 
some land to which it had been fixed from the 
earliest time. Returning northwards, during the 
winter months he traversed nearly the whole extent 
of the Pacific Ocean between the tropics, visiting 
Easter Island, the Marquesas, the Society and 
Friendly Islands, the New Hebrides, and another 
island, the largest yet discovered in the Pacific, 
except. those of New Zealand, which he called New 
Caledonia. He then returned to New Zealand, and 
having passed three weeks in friendly intercourse 
with the natives, took his departure, November 10. 
Having cruised in various latitudes between 43° and 
56°, a portion of the ocean which he had not yet 
explored, and being in W. long. 138° 56.', he de- 
termined to steer direct for the western entrance of 
the Straits of Magellan, and thence, along Tierra 
del Fuego, to the Straits of Le Maire. December 
29 he passed Cape Horn, and re-entered the Atlantic 
Ocean, and standing southward, discovered Sand- 
wich Land, a desolate coast, the extreme point of 
which he named the Southern Thule, lat. 59° 13', as 
the most southern land that had then been discovered. 
Later navigators have found land nearer to the 
Pole. " 1 concluded, ' Captain Cook observes, 
" that Sandwich Land was either a group of 
islands, or else a point of the continent, for I fiz*mly 
believe that there is a tract of land near the Pole, 

T 3 

318 COOK. 

which is the source of most of the ice which is 
spread over this vast southern ocean. I also think 
it probable that it extends farthest to the north, op- 
posite the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, 
because ice was always found by us farther to the 
north in these oceans than any where else." 
Having now encompassed the globe in a high latitude, 
and thinking it impossible to prosecute further re- 
searches in those tempestuous seas with a worn-out 
ship, and nearly exhausted provisions, Cook made 
sail for the Cape ; and arrived there March 22, 
1774, having sailed 20,000 leagues since he had 
left it, without so much injury to the ship as spring- 
ing a mast or yard. July 30 he anchored at Spit- 

He was received in England with high applause, 
posted, and made a Captain of Greenwich Hospital. 
On this occasion he published his own Journal, 
illustrated by maps and engravings ; and the com- 
position, unpretending, but clear and manly, does 
honour to one whose education had been so rude. 
Being elected Fellow of the Royal Society, he con- 
tributed two papers to their Transactions, published 
in vol. Ixvi., one relating to the tides in the South 
Seas, the other containing an account of the 
methods which he had taken to preserve the health 
of his ship's crew. The ravages of scurA^y are now 
so much checked, that few know from experience 
how dreadfully earlier navigators suffered from that 
disease. It is one of Cook's peculiar merits, that he 
attended to the health of his seamen with such 
eminent success, that during this long and painful 
voyage, not one man died of scun'y. Four only 
died, out of a hundred and twelve persons on board 
the Resolution, and of these but one was carried off 
by disease. That this was, in a great degree, the 
merit of the Captain, is proved by the Adventure 

COOK. ' 319 

having suffered much more, though fitted out exactly 
in the same way. Sailors usually dislike changes iu 
their mode of life; and it required judgment and 
perseverance to induce them to adopt a healthy 
regimen. Cook, however, succeeded in reconciling 
them to his innovations; of the utility of which 
they were perfectly convinced, long before the end of 
the voyage. The means which he used will be found 
fully detailed in his paper, which was honoured by 
the Society with the gold medal : those on which he 
chiefly relied were a large supply of antiscorbutic 
stores, as malt, sour krout, and portable broth ; the 
enforcement of a vegetable diet, whenever vegetables 
could be procured ; and great care not to expose the 
crew unnecessarily to the weather, and to keep their 
persons, their clothes, and their berths, clean, dry, 
and well aired. Cook was justly proud of liis suc- 
cess in this respect, and he closed the account of his 
second voyage with words which show the humanity 
and modesty of his temper. " Whatever may be the 
public judgment about other matters, it is with real 
satisfaction, and without claiming any other merit 
but that of attention to my duty, that I can conclude 
this account with an observation, which facts enable 
me to make, that our having discovered the possi- 
bility of preserving health among a numerous ship's 
company for such a length of time, in such varieties 
of climate, and amid such continued Ijardships and 
fatigues, will make this voyage remarkable, in the 
opinion of every benevolent person, when the dis- 
putes about the southern continent shall have ceased 
to engage the attention and to divide the judgment 
of philosophers." 

Another geographical question, of still greater 
interest, engaged the attention of the nation at 
this time ; the practicability of a north-east pas- 
sage to China and the Indies. During Cook's 
absence, one expedition had been sent out, under 

320 COOK. 

Captain Phipps ; it was now determined to send 
out a second, reversing the usual order, and try- 
ing to find a passage from the Pacific into the 
Atlantic Ocean. Cook volunteered to quit his well- 
earned repose, and take the direction of this enter- 
prise ; and the offer was gladly accepted. He was 
directed to proceed, by the Cape of Good Hope, to 
New Zealand, thence through the chain of islands 
scattered along the tropics, which he had already 
visited. This done, he was to proceed northward, 
with all dispatch, to the latitude of 65°, and to 
direct his attention to the discovery of a passage 
into the Atlantic ; and by the extension of an exist- 
ing Act of Parliament, the ship's company, if suc- 
cessful, were entitled to a reward of £20,000. With 
a most praiseworthy benevolence, the ships were 
charged with cattle, sheep, and other useful animals, 
to be left, and naturalised, if possible, in New Zea- 
land, Otaheite, and other islands. The Resolution 
and Discovery were fitted out for the voyage, with 
every attention to the health and comfort of their 
crews. They sailed from Plymouth July 12, 1776, 
and touching at New Zealand, reached the Friendly 
Islands so late in the spring of 1777, that Captain 
Cook thought it impossible to visit the Polar Seas 
to any purpose that year. He therefore spent the 
whole summer in this part of the ocean, where 
fresh provisions were abundant ; and his men were 
relieved from the hardships and sicknesses commonly 
incident to a long voyage, while, at the same time, 
the ship's stores were economised. He remained 
therefore near three months among the Friendly 
Islands, using all means of adding to the geogra- 
phical knowledge of this intricate archipelago, and 
acquiring information relative to the natural history 
of the country, and the manners of the inhabitants, 
with whom an uninterrupted friendship was main- 
tained. July 17, Cook pursued his course to the 

COOK. , 321 

Society Islands. Both here and at the Friendly 
Islands, especially at Otaheite, he left a number of 
European animals; and the prudence, as well as 
benevolence, of this conduct, is evinced by the valu- 
able supplies which whalers and other navigators of 
the southern seas have since drawn from them. 
Early in December he took a final leave of these 
regions; and, January 18, 1778, came in sight of 
an unknown group, to which he gave the name of 
Sandwich Islands. March 7, the west coast of 
North America was seen; and after spending a 
month in executing necessary repairs in Nootka 
Sound; the voyagers advanced to the Aleutian 
Islands, and up Behring's Strait. Here Cook as- 
certained the continents of Asia and America to be 
only thirteen leagues apart ; and laid down the posi- 
tion of the most westerly point of America, just 
without the Arctic Circle, which he named Cape 
Prince of Wales. August 18 he reached lat. 70° 
44', W. long, about 162°, his extreme point, and 
continued to traverse those frozen regions till August 
29, when, the ice being daily increasing, it was 
time to seek a more genial climate. But before pro- 
ceeding to the south, he employed some time in 
examining the coasts of Asia and America, and 
found reason to admire the correctness of Behring, 
the discoverer of the strait which bears that name. 
He passed the winter at the Sandwich Islands, 
intending to return northward early enough to 
reach Kamtschatka by the middle of May in the 
ensuing year. 

During this second visit was discovered the island 
of Owhyhee, the largest and most important of the 
group, at which the strangers were received with 
unusual generosity and confidence. Near ten weeks 
were spent in sailing round it, without any serious 
disagreement arising with the natives; and Cook 
ceased to regret that he had as yet failed in meeting 

322 COOK. 

with a northern passage home. It is remarkable 
that his Journal concludes with the following words : 
" To this disappointment we owed our ha\'ing it in 
our power to revisit the Sandwich Islands, and to 
enrich our voyage with a discovery which, though 
the last, seemed in many respects to be the most 
important that had hitherto been made by Euro- 
peans, throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean." 
This island, which he had rejoiced so much to 
see, was the spot where our great navigator's life 
was prematurely closed. We have the testimony of 
an eye-witness to his own belief, that no premedi- 
tated and treacherous assault had been planned ; but 
that the fatal affray was one of those accidents 
which human foresight cannot always prevent. 
The natives of these, as of all the South Sea 
Islands, were much addicted to stealing the new 
and tempting articles presented to their view; a 
fault for which Captain Cook, with the benevolence 
usually displayed in his dealings with them, has 
offered a charitable and sensible apology. But on 
the night of February 13 one of the ship's boats 
was stolen. To recover this was a matter of im- 
portance ; and Cook went on shore, guarded only 
by a small number of marines, hoping by amicable 
means to gain possession of the person of the king 
of the district, which he had always found the most 
effectual method of regaining stolen articles- The 
king consented to go on board the Resolution ; but 
a crowd collected, and indications of alarm and 
hostility gradually increased, until blows were made 
at Captain Cook, and he was obliged to fire in self- 
defence. A shower of stones was then discharged 
at the marines, who returned it with a volley, and 
this drew on the fire of the boats' crews. Cook 
turned round to stop the firing, and order the boats 
to come close in to shore ; but a rush had been made 
on the marines as soon as their muskets were dis- 

COOK. 323 

charged, and tliey were driven into the water, where 
four were killed, the rest escaping to the boats. 
Cook was the last person left on shore ; and he was 
making for the pinnace, when an Indian came 
behind him and struck him with a club. He sunk 
on one knee, and as he rose was stabbed by another 
Indian in the neck. He fell into shallow water 
within five or six yards of one of the boats ; but 
there all was confusion, and no united effort was 
made to save him. He struggled vigorously, but 
was overcome by numbers ; and at last was struck 
down, not to rise again. His body, with the other 
slain, was abandoned to the natives, and though 
every exertion was subsequently made, nothing more 
than the bones, and not all of them, were recovered. 
These were committed to the deep with military 
honours; honoured more highly by the unfeigned 
sorrow of those who sailed under his command. 

Captain Clerke of the Discovery succeeded to the 
command of the expedition, and returned in the 
ensuing summer to the Polar Seas; but he was 
unable to advance so far as in the former year. The 
chief object of the voyage therefore failed. The 
ships returned along the coast of Kamtschatka to 
Japan and China, and reached England in October, 
1780. Captain Clerke died of consumption in his 
second visit to the Polar Seas, and Lieutenant King 
succeeded to the Discovery, whose name is honour- 
ably associated with that of his great commander, 
in consequence of his having continued the account 
of the voyage, from the period at which Cook's 
Journal ends. He has borne testimony to Cook's 
virtues in the following terms : — 

" The constitution of his body was robust, inured 
to labour, and capable of undergoing the severest 
hardships. His stomach bore without difficulty the 
coarsest and most ungrateful food. Great was the 
indifference with which he submitted to every kind 

324 COOK. 

of self-denial. The qualities of his mind were of 
the same hardy, vigorous kind with those of his 
body. His understanding was strong and perspi- 
cacious. His judgment, in whatever related to the 
services he was engaged in, quick and sure. His 
designs were bold and manly ; and both in the con- 
ception, and in the mode of execution, bore evident 
marks of a great original genius. His courage was 
cool and determined, and accompanied with an 
admirable presence of mind in the moment of dan- 
ger. His temper might, perhaps, have been justly 
blamed as subject to hastiness and passion, had not 
these been disarmed by a disposition the most bene- 
volent and humane Such were the outlines of 
Captain Cook's character ; but its most distinguish- 
ing feature was that unremitting perseverance in the 
pursuit of his object, which was not only superior 
to the opposition of dangers, and the pressure of 
hardships, but even exempt from the want of ordi- 
nary relaxation. During the long and tedious 
voyages in which he was engaged, his eagerness and 
activity were never in the least abated. No inci- 
dental temptation could detain him for a moment : 
even those intervals of recreation which sometimes 
unavoidably occurred, and were looked for by u.s 
with a longing, that persons who have experienced 
the fatigues of service will readily excuse, were sub- 
mitted to by him with a certain impatience, when- 
ever they could not be employed in making a farther 
provision for the more effectual prosecution of his 

The life of Captain Cook is, in effect, the history 
of his voyages, and will best be found in the accounts- 
of those works. But the memoir by Dr. Kippis, 
the whole of which is printed in the Biographia 
Britannica, is more adapted for general use. Sam- 
well's Narrative of the Death of Captain Cook 
contains the fullest account of that lamentable event. 


Anne Robert James Turcot was born at Paris 
May 10, 1727. He was descended from one of the 
oldest and most noble families of Normandy. 

Turgot's childhood was passed under the superin- 
tendence of an injudicious mother, whose affection 
for her son seems to have been much lessened in con- 
sequence of his shy and awkward manners before 
strangers. His father, on the contrary, was a man 
of sense and humanity. He was Provost of the 
Corporation of Merchants, an office which he long 
filled with deserved popularity. He lived till 1750, 
and by his example as well as by his precepts ex- 
erted no small influence over the character of his son. 
If Turgot's reserved and silent manners are to be attri- 
buted to the one parent, the uprightness, benevolence, 
and boldness of his conduct may perhaps in an equal 
degree be ascribed to the other. At an early age he 

VOL, III. u 

326 TURGOT. 

was sent to the school of Louis le Grand, where he 
had little opportunity of making progress ; for the 
master, though a kind-hearted man, was not in other 
respects peculiarly qualified for his station. He 
afterwards went to the school of Plessis. Here he 
was more fortunate in meeting with two professors 
of superior abilities, Guerin and Sigorgne ; the 
latter honourably distinguished as being the first 
member of the universities of France who intro- 
duced the Newtonian philosophy into the schools. 
Under their tuition, assisted by his own unremitting 
assiduity, Turgot advanced rapidly, and the puj)il 
soon acquired the respect and friendship of his 

It was the custom in France, during the period of 
Turgot's boyhood, that parents should decide upon 
the profession to which their children should be edu- 
cated, even from the cradle ; little voice in this most 
important question being allowed to those who were 
most deeply interested in it. Turgot was the young- 
est of three sons; of whom the eldest was destined to 
the magistracy, the second to the army, the third, 
the subject of this memoir, was set apart for the 
church. The premature determination of his 
parents seemed amply justified as his character was 
gradually developed. Great simplicity of manner, 
pensiveness of mind, extreme diffidence and reserve, 
a distaste to dissipation of any kind, habits of intense 
application, and an ardent love of knowledge, were 
his prominent qualities, and well suited to the eccle- 
siastical life. Nevertheless he had hardly reached 
the age of reflection, and become capable of appre- 
ciating the objects of ambition, which, from the 
political consideration in which his family was held, 
he might reasonably aspire to, before he resolved to 
sacrifice all to an unfettered conscience, and to follow 
that path in which he thought he could be most use- 

TURGOT. 327 

ful to his fellow-citizens and mankind. Deeply im- 
pressed however with a sense of what was due to the 
feelings of his parents, he waited till a favourable op- 
portunity should occur to disclose his secret determi- 
nation ; and was, in the mean time, at the age of 
twenty-one, admitted to the establishment of the 
Sorbonne, as a student of theology. Here he re- 
mained two years, prosecuting his studies with 
vigour, but without confining them to a profession 
which he had resolved not to follow. Nothing 
seemed too vast to discourage him, or too trifling to 
escape his notice. Mathematics and natural philo- 
sophy, metaphysics, logic, morals, legislation and 
law; history, belles lettres, poetry, Latin, Greek, 
Hebrew, together with most of the modern languages, 
entered into the comprehensive catalogue of his 
pursuits. So great an activity of mind, joined to a 
memory so retentive that he could repeat two 
hundred lines of verse after hearing them read twice, 
and sometimes only once, stored his mind with an 
extent and variety of knowledge unusual at his, or 
indeed at any age. After taking his degree, and 
being elected Prior of the establishment, he could no 
longer conceal his intention of relinquishing the 
profession of the church. His friends and associates, 
amongst others the Abbt5s Bon, Morellet, and de 
Brienne, remonstrated with him in vain on his deter- 
mination. " Follow the advice,'' he replied, " which 
you offer, since you are able to do so : for my own 
part, it is impossible for me to wear a mask all my 

He had determined to pursue his fortune in the 
civil service of the state ; and his father's death ob- 
viated the difficulties which might have embarrassed 
him in carrying his resolution into effect. He ob- 
tained the office of Procureur du Roi as a first step 
in his new career, and soon after that of Master of 


328 TURCOT . 

Requests. In this situation he had to make several 
reports, and to deliver them viva voce before the 
King. Aware of his extreme diffidence, he resolved 
to counteract it by writing out and revising his 
speech with great attention. He did so ; nothing 
was omitted, and yet the subject was summed up 
with such severe conciseness as greatly to fatigue the 
patience of his hearers. Some of them, compliment- 
ing him on his performance, at the same time criti- 
cised its length ; " The next time," they added, *' try 
to abridge what you have to say." Turgot, who 
knew that it was impossible to have abridged more, 
learnt by this remark that he had abridged too 
much ; and on the next occasion, profiting by his 
singularly acquired knowledge, he developed his facts 
at length, repeated his arguments, and recapitulated 
all that he had urged ; and, in doing so, fixed with- 
out fatiguing the attention of his audience. When 
he had finished, the same friends, as he expected, 
congratulated him warmly on having corrected his 
former defect, saying, " This time you have told us a 
great deal, and you have been very brief." 

In 1761 he was made Intendant of Limoges; 
and on his appointment Voltaire wrote to him, 
saying, " I have lately learnt from one of your col- 
leagues that an Intendant can do nothing but 
mischief: you, I trust, will prove that he can do 
much good." These anticipations were fully rea- 
lised. The inhabitants of his province, overbur- 
dened at all times by the oppressive imposts of the 
Taille, the Corve'e, and the Militia service, were 
then suff"ering under the added pressure of three 
successive years of scarcity. The Taille was in tlie 
nature of a land-tax, which fell upon the landlords 
in those parts of the country which were cultivated 
by farmers ; but principally upon the labourers 
themselves, wherever the Metayer system was in 

TURCOT. 329 

force, as in Limousin. A more equal distribution 
of this tax, and an improved method of collection, 
relieved the peasant from the great injustice of the 
burden. Tlie Corvee was an obligation to furnish 
labour in kind, twice every year, for the construction 
and repair of public roads ; for which the peasantry 
received no remuneration. Turgot proposed that 
this task should for the future be executed by hired 
labourers, whose wages were to be paid by a rate 
levied upon the districts adjacent to the road. The 
evils of the Militia service were obviated in a 
similar way ; and the people who had received their 
new Intendant with suspicion, as only a new speci 
men of their former oppressors, now looked upon 
him as a benefactor and a friend. Nevertheless his 
popularity could not overcome all prejudices ; and 
when he endeavoured to mitigate the evils occasioned 
by the late scarcity, by introducing a free traffic in 
grain, both the magistrates and the peasantry did 
all in their power to counteract his wise and bene- 
volent exertions. In spite of his new regulations, 
supported by a clear explanation of the grounds 
upon which they rested, the land-owners and corn- 
merchants could not transport their grain to those 
places where the price was highest, the want there- 
fore most urgent, and the supply most beneficial, 
without exposing their persons to insults, and their 
property to the pillage of the people, as well as to 
the local taxes imposed by the magistrates. Turgot 
lost no time in addressing a circular to the proper 
officers, in which he urged them, by the pleas both 
of reason and authority, to put in force the laws, 
and check the popular irritation. He showed that 
the difference of weather often produces an abundant 
harvest in some districts, and a deficient one in 
others ; and that the only effectual way of relieving 
the necessary distress in the latter is to permit the 



free transport of the surplus produce of the former : 
that if one toA\Ti were to arrogate the right of pro- 
hibiting the transit or export of grain, other towns 
would justly pretend to the same privilege ; and 
that what might be felt as a benefit to the inhabit- 
ants of one spot in a vear of external scarcity would 
be deprecated by the same persons as a curse in a 
year of internal famine. The clearness and con- 
ciliatory tone \vith which the principle of the freedom 
of trade was laid down produced the desired eflFect ; 
and the %vriter had the satisfaction of seeing the 
wants of the people supplied, without recurring 
to the demoralising expedient of indiscriminate 

Soon after the success of this experiment the 
Minister of Finance consulted the Intendants of the 
kingdom upon the laws relating to the commerce of 
grain, Turgot wrote seven letters in answer, in 
which he developed at length his views on the 
subject of free trade ; and not long after he com- 
posed an essay on the Formation of Wealth, which, 
as his celebrated biographer Condorcet observes, 
may be considered as the germ of Smith's Wealth 
of Nations. 

These unremitting exertions, joined to views so 
just and at that time so original, attracted the at- 
tention of the public ; and on the death of Louis 
XV. Turgot was called to the first offices of the 
state, as the only man who seemed likely to restore 
the failing credit of the nation, do justice to the 
people, and prevent those political troubles which 
did in fact ensue, and ended in confiscation and 
bloodshed. He undertook the difficult task with 
cheerfulness, but not without some misgivings. 
The aristocracy and the court could not long remain 
favourable to a minister who would not cater to 
their luxuries ; the clergy naturally ^^ewed with 

TURCOT. 331 

suspicion one who was devoted to the most rigid 
economy ; public opinion was not sufficiently ad- 
vanced to appreciate the measures of a statesman 
whose genius far surpassed the knowledge of his 
day ; and even if it had been more enlightened, it 
had not the means of expressing itself powerfully 
and almost simultaneously as in England. Turgot 
therefore had no support to rely on but that of the 
King ; but while the monarch remained firm, there 
was still a hope that the statesman might accom- 
plish his objects. After filling the post of Minister 
of Marine for one month he was raised to the office 
of Minister of Finance, August 24, 1774. Nothing 
could be more encouraging to him than his first 
audience of the King ; it was more like the confi- 
dential intercourse of two friends considering in 
truth and sincerity the best means of promoting the 
happiness of their common country than a cold and 
formal state conference. Turgot, with the permis- 
sion of his sovereign, recapitulated what had oc- 
curred at this meeting, in a letter which is above 
all praise. In it he enforced the absolute necessity 
of the most rigid economy, in order to prevent a 
national bankruptcy, any increase of taxes, or any 
new loans. " No bankruptcy, either avowed, or 
disguised under compulsory reductions. No increase 
of taxes. The reason your Majesty will find in 
the situation of your people, and still more in your 
own heart. No new loans ; for every loan, by 
diminishing the free revenue, necessarily leads at 
last to a bankruptcy or an increase of taxes." The 
means by which he proposed to bring about these 
ends were the most rigid retrenchments. " But," 
he adds, " it is asked, in what is the retrenchment 
to be made ? and every department will maintain 
that as far as relates to itself there is scarcely a 
single expense which is not indispensable. The 

332 TURCOT. 

reasons alleged may be very good ; but as tbere can 
be none for performing impossibilities, all these 
reasons must give way to the irresistible necessity 
of economy. Your Majesty knows tliat one of the 
greatest obstacles to economy is the multitude of 
solicitations to which you are perpetually exposed. 
Your benevolence, Sir, must be the shield against 
your bounty. Consider whence the money distri- 
buted amongst your courtiers is dra\vn ; and con- 
trast the misery of those from whom it is sometimes 
necessary to wrest it by the most rigorous measures, 
with the situation of those who have the best title 
to your liberality." Such a course was sure to raise 
up enemies on every side. He anticipates the 
calumnies which will be heaped upon him ; he 
points them out to the King, and then reminds him, 
" It is upon the faith of your Majesty's promises 
that I take upon myself a burden which is perhaps 
heavier than I can bear; it is to yourself pereonally, 
to the honest, the just, and the good man, rather 
than to the King, that I devote myself" 

From this letter it might be supposed, by those 
who are not acquainted with all Turgot's principles, 
that his first step would be to stop the payment to 
every useless pensioner upon the state, and abrogate 
every local tax which had been unjustly levied by 
individuals in times of anarchy and oppression. 
But he respected the right of property; and the 
more so, because he understood its full extent. 
Every unjust impost was indeed taken oif, and every 
monopoly destroyed ; but not without first giving to 
the possessors an indemnification equal to their loss : 
and two years' arrears of pensions, which had been 
stopped for three years previous to his entering 
upon office, were punctually discharged without loss 
of time where the amount was small, and the creditor 
therefore in all probability not in aflSuent circum- 

TURCOT. 333 

stances ; whilst the payment of the remaining ones 
was accelerated as much as possible. It was not 
therefore by injustice that he endeavoured to relieve 
the people, but by enabling' them more easily to 
bear their burdens. The faithful discharge of all 
claims upon the state restored the credit of the 
country; the destruction of monopolies, and of 
restrictions upon commerce and manufactures, in- 
creased the wealth of the people, and thus rendered 
comparatiA'ely light an amount of taxation which 
was before most burdensome. Thus, his first regu- 
lations established a free trade in corn throughout 
the kingdom, and took away the exclusive privileges 
of bakers, the obligation to grind corn at particular 
mills, and several market dues upon corn when 
sold. A similar edict permitted the free circulation 
of wine ; and brandy, cider, and perry were meant 
to have been subsequently included in this law. 
The manufacturers of France were also freed from 
the absurd and vexatious regulations which pre- 
scribed the size of different stuff's, and the method of 
making and dying them, under severe penalties and 
even corporal punishments; and ingenuity was 
allowed to exert itself according to the taste and 
demand of the public. Glass, powder, saltpetre, 
nitre, oil of poppies, and many other articles, were 
either freed on the one hand from the exclusive 
privileges in their manufacture, which enhanced 
their price and interfered with their quality; or, on 
the other, from restrictions upon their free trans- 
port through the kingdom, which prevented the 
manufacturer from obtaining the best price for his 

These changes were brought about in little more 
than a year and a half, during which his labours 
were interrupted by attacks of illness, and by two 
events which could not be averted or foreseen. The 


334 TURGOT. 

first of these was a contagious disorder which broke 
out among the cattle of Guienne, and spread far and 
wide, until the salutary measures taken by Turgot 
arrested the evil : the other was more serious, and 
required all the decision and courage of the minister 
for its suppression. The season had been unfavour- 
able ; and in times of scarcity the people had been 
accustomed to vent their fury against the corn-mer- 
chants, whom the government often weakly aban- 
doned. A repetition of these scenes was approach- 
ing. A few riots in the provincial towns were soon 
quelled, but a heavier storm impended over the 
capital. A band of lawless insurgents, after plun- 
dering the corn-markets upon the Seine and Oise, 
entered Paris, rifled many bakers' shops, and en- 
deavoured to excite the people to outrage and vio- 
lence. The powers of government seemed paralysed. 
The superintendents of the police were frightened 
and inactive ; and the parliament published a pro- 
clamation, promising that the King should be 
petitioned for a reduction in the price of bread. 
Turgot lost no time in sending troops to the dis- 
turbed district, who soon dispersed the pillagers; 
the superintendents of the police were immediately 
dismissed from office ; and government proclama- 
tions were posted over those of the parliament during 
the very night in which the latter were issued, 
prohibiting the assembling of the people on pain of 
death. These energetic and salutary measures soon 
restored tranquillity and confidence ; the property of 
the merchants was respected ; and the price of pro- 
visions found the lowest level which the nature of 
the case would admit of. A month after, the King 
in passing through a district in which these riots 
had prevailed, was cheered by subjects who blessed 
his government. " It is Turgot and I alone who 
love the people," was the expression which fell from 

• TURCOT. 835 

his lips ; and the sentence was repeated and con- 
firmed by a nation's voice. In spite, however, of 
Turgot's indefatigable and honest exertions in the 
cause of his country, his dismission from office was 
soon demanded. The privileged orders insisted 
upon remaining exempt from the payment of the 
taxes ; the court parasites upheld the necessity of 
sinecures and pensions; all who lived upon the 
resources of the country without serving it united in 
denouncing a minister who was the friend of the 
people and of justice ; nor had the clergy any sym- 
pathy with one who laid down the most comprehen- 
sive principles of toleration. The King had the 
culpable weakness of yielding to this dishonest 
clamour. He sacrificed his minister, and not many 
years after died himself upon the scaffold; that 
scaffold which was destined to reek with the blood 
of his family, his friends, and his subjects. 

Turgot had been in office only twenty months, 
but during that time he had prepared the way for 
a new era of extensive happiness and prosperity for 
his fellow-countrymen. A friend reproached him 
one day with being too precipitate. " How can you 
say so," he replied, "you who know so well the 
pressing wants of the people, and are aware that 
none of my family survive the gout beyond the age 
of fifty.'"' His prediction was but too nearly ful- 
filled ; he died of this hereditary disease a few years 
afterwards, March 20, 1781, in the fifty-fourth year 
of his age. 

During the interval between his retiring from 
office and his death Turgot devoted himself to 
literary and scientific pursuits. His works are con- 
tained in nine volumes octavo, 1808-11 ; they are 
composed principally of state papers connected with 
his administration, of some articles written for the 

336 TURCOT. • 

Encyclopedic, and a few translations from classical 
and modern literature. 

Turgot was a great and a good man ; endowed 
with depth and oiiginality of thought, he discovered 
and acted upon sound principles of political economy, 
before the science had been even dignified with a 
name ; and whilst his predecessors in office were ever 
seeking for temporary expedients to increase the re- 
venue of the state by the oppression of the people, 
he first endeavoured to unite the interests of both. 
Mild and conciliating in his manners, just and be- 
nevolent in all his views, he was the firm and un- 
compromising opponent of every species of injustice. 
He was ambitious, but his ambition was of the 
highest order. He despised the tinsel grandeur of 
office, the smiles of courtiers, or even the applause 
of the multitude ; but he courted the means of doing 
good to mankind, and his reward has been the esteem 
of discerning friends and the applause of a later and 
a more enlightened age. 

A disquisition on the life and opinions of Turgot, 
by Dupont de Nemours, is prefixed to the edition of 
his works which we have already mentioned. His 
life, written by Condorcet, is one of the best spe- 
cimens of biography in any language. Lacretelle's 
' Histoire du dix-huitieme Siecle' contains a short 
sketch of his ministry, well deserving attention ; and 
several interesting details of his character are to be 
found in the Memoirs of the Abbe Morellet. 


Jean le Rond D'Alembert, one of the most dis- 
tinguished mathematicians of the last century, owed 
none of his eminence to the accidents of birth or 
fortune. Even to a name he had no legal title : he 
derived the one half of that which he bore from the 
church of St. Jean le Rond in Paris, near which he 
was exposed ; and the other probably from his fos- 
ter-mother, a glazier's wife, to whose care he was 
intrusted by a com.missary of police, who found him. 
It is conjectured that both the exposure and the 
adoption of the infant were preconcerted ; for a 
short time after the father appeared, and settled on 
him a yearly pension of twelve hundred francs, equi- 
valent to about 50/. 

Owing to these circumstances the date of D'Alem- 
bert's birth is not exactly known ; it is said to have 
been the J6th or 17th' of November, 1717. He 

338 d'alembert. 

commenced his studies at the College des Quatre 
Nations when twelve years old. Mathematics and 
poetry seem to have been his favourite pursuits, since 
his instructors, he says, endeavoured to turn him 
from them ; making it a charge against the former, 
that they dried up the heart, and recommending 
that his study of the latter should be confined to the 
poem of St. Prosper upon Grace. He was permit- 
ted, however, to study the rudiments of mathematics : 
and we may infer that he was little indebted either 
to books or teachers, from the mortification which 
he felt somewhat later in life at finding that he had 
been anticipated in many things which he had be- 
lieved to be discoveries of his own. He meant, at 
one time, to follow the profession of the law, and 
proceeded so far as to be admitted an advocate. 
Finding this not to his taste, he tried medicine ; 
and, resolute in good intentions, sent his mathema- 
tical books to a friend, to be retained till he had 
taken his doctor's degree. But he reclaimed book 
after book on various pretexts, and finally deter- 
mined to content himself with his annuity of fifty 
pounds, and liberty to devote his whole time to the 
scientific pursuits which he loved so much. His 
mode of life at this period has been described by 
himself: — "He awoke," he says, "every morning, 
thinking \vith pleasure on the studies of the pre- 
ceding evening, and on the prospect of continuing 
them during the day. When his thoughts were 
called off for a moment, they turned to the satis- 
faction he should have at the play in the evening, 
and between the acts of the piece he meditated on 
the pleasures of the next morning's study. 

The history of D'Alembert's life is soon told. 
Some memoirs written in 1739 and 1740, and some 
corrections which he made in the Analyse Demon- 
tree of Reynau, a work then much esteemed in 

d'alembert. 339 

France, obtained for him an entrance into the Aca- 
demie des Sciences in 1741, at the early age of 
twenty-four. Simple in his habits, careless of his 
own advancement, or of the favours of great men, he 
refused several advantageous offers, which would 
have withdrawn him from the society of Paris, and 
from the libraries and other literary advantages 
of that great metropolis. Frederic II. of Prussia 
sought to tempt him to Berlin in 1*752, and again in 
1759. The invitation was again repeated and urged 
upon him in 1759 and 1763; and on the last occa- 
sion the King assured D'Alembert that, in rejecting 
it, he had made the only false calculation of his 
whole life. In 1762 Catherine of Russia wished 
him to undertake the education of her son, and 
endeavoured to overcome his reluctance to leave 
Paris, by promising him an income of ten thousand 
francs, and a kind reception to as many of his friends 
as would accompany him. " I know," she said, 
"that your refusal arises from your desire to culti- 
vate your studies and your friendships in quiet. But 
this is of no consequence : bring all your friends 
with you, and I promise you that both you and they 
shall have every accommodation in my power." But 
his income had been rendered sufficient for his wants 
by a pension of twelve hundred francs from the King 
of Prussia, and an equal sum from the French 
Government; and he declined to profit by any of 
these liberal offers. 

It is to D'Alembert's honour that, until the end 
of her life, he repaid the services of his foster-mother 
with filial attention and love. It is said that, when 
his name became famous, his mother. Mademoiselle 
de Tencin, a lady of rank and wit, and known in 
the literary circles of the day, sent for him, and 
acquainted him with the relationship which existed 
between them. His well-merited reply was, " You 

340 b'alembert. 

are only my step-mother, the glazier's wife is my 
mother." He lived unmarried, but the latter years 
of his life were overcast in consequence of a singular 
and unfortunate attachment to a M"'' de I'Espinasse, 
a young lady of talent, whose society was much 
courted by the literary men of Paris. She pro- 
fessed to return this attachment; insomuch that, 
when D'Alembert was attacked by a severe illness 
in 1765, she insisted on becoming his nurse, and 
after his recovery took up her abode under his roof. 
The connexion is said to have been purely Platonic ; 
and this, it has been obsen^ed, may be believed, 
because, had the fact been different, there was little 
reason for concealing it, according to the code of 
morals which then regulated Parisian society. But 
the lady proved fickle ; and worse than fickle, for 
she treated D'Alembert, who still retained his affec- 
tion for her, with contempt and unkindness. Yet 
this ill usage did not alienate his regard. Upon her 
death he fell into a state of profound melancholy, 
from which he never entirely recovered. He died 
October 29, 1783. Not having conformed, on his 
death-bed, to the requisitions of the Roman Church, 
some difficulty was experienced in procuring the 
rites of burial ; and in consequence his interment 
was strictly private. 

In his personal character D'Alembert was simple, 
benevolent, warm in his attachments, a sworn foe to 
servility and adulation, and no follower of great men. 
This temper stood in the way of his progress to 
riches. It was his maxim, that a man should be 
very careful in his writings, careful enough in his 
actions, and moderately careful in his words ; and 
the latter clause was probably that which he best 
observed. In more than one instance his plain 
drollery gave offence to persons of influence at court, 
and finjstrated the exertions of his friends to improve 

d'alembert. 341 

liis fortunes. Fortunately he united simple tastes 
with an independent, fearless, and benevolent mind ; 
and it is said that he gave away one-half of his 
income, when it did not amount to 350/. His own 
account of his own character, written in the third 
person, runs in the following terms, and is confirmed 
by the testimony of his friends : — " Devoted to study 
and privacy till the age of twenty-five, he entered 
late into the world, and was never much pleased 
with it. He could never bend himself to learn its 
usages and language, and perhaps even indulged a 
sort of petty vanity in despising them. He is never 
rude, because he is neither bnital nor severe ; but 
he is sometimes blunt, through inattention or igno- 
rance. Compliments embarrass him, because he 
never can find a suitable answer immediately; when 
he says flattering things, it is always because he 
thinks them. The basis of his character is frank- 
ness and truth, often rather blunt, but neA'er disgust- 
ing. He is impatient and angry, even to violence, 
when anything goes Avrong, but it all evaporates in 
words. He is soon satisfied and easily governed, 
provided he does not see what you aim at ; for his 
love of independence amounts to fanaticism, so that 
he often denies himself things which would be agree- 
able to him, because he is afraid that they would put 
him under some restraint ; which makes some of his 
friends call him, justly enough, the slave of his 
liberty." In his religious opinions D'Alembert was, 
in the true meaning of the word, a sceptic, and his 
name has obtained an unenviable notoriety as co- 
editor, with Diderot, of the celebrated Encyclopedie. 
His superintendence, however, extended only to the 
end of the second volume, after which the work was 
stopped by the French Government ; and on its 
resumption D'Alembert confined himself strictly to 
the mathematical department. In one respect his 

342 d'alembert. 

conduct may be advantageously contrasted with that 
of some of his colleagues ; he intruded liis own 
opinions on no man, and he took no pleasure in 
shocking others, by insulting what they hold sacred. 
" I knew D'Alembert," says La Hai-pe, " well 
enough to say that he was sceptical in everything 
but mathematics. He would no more have said 
positively that there was no religion than that there 
was a God ; he only thought that the probabilities 
were in favour of theism, and against revelation. 
On this subject he tolerated all opinions : and this 
disposition made him think the intolerant arrogance 
of the Atheists odious and unbearable. I do not 
think that he ever printed a sentence which marks 
either hatred or contempt of religion." 

We proceed to mention the most remarkable of 
D'Alembert's mathematical works. He published in 
1743 a treatise on Dynamics, in which he enunciated 
the law now known under the name of D'Alembert's 
principle, one of the most valuable of modem con- 
tributions to mechanical science. In the foUomng 
year appeared a treatise on the Equilibrium and 
Motion of Fluids; and in 1746, Reflections on the 
general Causes of Winds, which obtained the prize 
of the Academy of Berlin. This work is remark- 
able as the first which contained the general equa- 
tions of the motion of fluids, as well as the first 
announcement and use of the calculus of partial 
differences. We may add to the list of his disco- 
veries the analytical solutions of the problem of 
vibrating chords, and the motion of a column of 
air; of the precession of the equinoxes, and the 
nutation of the earth's axis, the phenomenon itself 
having been recently observed by Bradley. In 1752 
he completed his researches into fluids, by an Essay 
on the Resistance of Fluids. We have to add to 
the list his Essay on the Problem of Three Bodies, 



as it is called by astronomers, an investigation of 
the law by which three bodies mutually gravi- 
tating affect each other ; and Researches on various 
points connected with the system of the Universe : 
the former published in 1747, and the latter in 
1754 — G. His Opuscules, or minor pieces, were 
collected in eight volumes, towards the end of his 

344 d'alembert. 

Of his connexion with the Encyclopt5die we 
have already spoken. He is said to be sinQ;iilarly 
clear and happy in his expositions of the metaphy- 
sical difficulties of abstract science. He is also 
lionourably known in less abstruse departments of 
literature by his Melanges de Philosophie, Memoirs 
of Christina of Sweden, Essay on the Servility of 
Men of Letters to the Great, Elements of Philoso- 
phy, and a work on the Destruction of the Jesuits. 
On his election to the office of perpetual Secretary 
to the Academy, he wrote the Eloges of the mem- 
bers deceased from 1700 up to that date. His 
works and correspondence were collected and pub- 
lished in eighteen volumes 8vo., Paris, 1805, by M. 
Bastien, to whose first volume we refer the reader 
for complete information on this subject. 


Leonard Euler* was born at Basle, April 15, 
1707. His father was the clergyman of Reichen, 
near Basle, and had himself been a pupil of James 
Bernouilli. He intended his son for his own profes- 
sion, and, after having been himself his first instructor 
in mathematics, sent him to the university of Basle. 
John Bernouilli was at this time Professor, and his 
sons, Nicolas and Daniel, two moi'e of the eight 
Bemouillis known to the history of science, were 
under him. With the sons Euler contracted an 
intimate friendship ; and obtained such a degree of 
favour even with their father, that the latter gave 
him a private lesson weekly, upon points more ad- 

• We liave followed tlie ilnge of Condorcot as to facts and dates. Wo 
kliould have preferied iliat of M. Fuss, but have not had the oi)portmiily 
of teein<; it. 'i'h<- mere biographical details of Eulcr's life are, liowevcr, 
of the Bitoplent character. 

346 EULKR. 

vanced than those treated in the public course. 
This was a strong mark of favour from John Ber- 
nouilli, who was of an unamiable disposition, 
jealous of his brother, of his son, and finally of 
almost every one who displayed a superior talent 
for mathematics. Euler at first turned his attention 
to theology, in accordance with the wishes of his 
father, but this was not of long continuance. At 
the age of nineteen, besides obtaining a degree 
from his University, he had merited the notice of 
the Academy of Sciences for a memoir on some 
points of naval architecture. In the same year he 
was an unsuccessful candidate for a Professorship 
at Basle ; an unlucky event, M. Condorcet observes, 
for his country, inasmuch as a few days afterwards 
he left it for Russia, and never returned. His 
friends the Bernouillis (Nicolas and Daniel) had, 
two years before, accepted invitations from the 
Empress Catherine ; and he followed them in hopes 
of obtaining employment and subsistence at St. 
Petersburgh. But by the time he arrived, both 
Nicolas Bernouilli and the Empress were dead, the 
Academy of St. Petersburgh was left without a 
patron, and Euler, a nameless stranger, could not 
for a long time obtain any settled avocation. How 
he maintained himself we are not told ; but he was 
upon the point of entering the Russian service as a 
sailor when his prospects brightened, and he ob- 
tained the place of Professor of Natural Philosophy. 
In 1733 he succeeded Daniel Bernouilli, who re- 
turned to his own country, as Professor of Mathe- 
matics. In the same year he married a young lady 
named Gsell, the daughter of an artist of Basle, 
who had emigrated to Russia in the reign of Peter 
the Great. 

The despotism of the Russian government could 
not please the republican born ; but circumstances 

EULER. 347 

obliged him to endure it till 1741, when he quitted 
Petersburgh for Berlin, on the invitation of Frederic 
the Great. To the continual reserve and govern- 
ment of the tongue which was necessary in the 
Russian capital has been attributed his love of 
silence and study, which exceeded all that is re- 
lated of any of his contemporaries. The mother of 
Frederic, who was as much attached to the con- 
versation of distinguished men as the King himself, 
could never obtain more than a few syllables from 
Euler at any one time. On her asking the reason 
why he would not speak, he is said to have replied, 
" Madam, I have lived in a country where men who 
speak are hanged." 

Euler remained at Berlin till 1766. In 1761 he 
lost his mother, who had resided with him for 
eleven years. During this time he was not consi- 
dered as having abandoned his Russian engagements, 
and a part of his salary was regularly paid. When 
the Russians invaded Brandenburgh in 1760, a 
farm belonging to him was destroyed, but he was 
immediately more than reimbursed, by the order of 
the Empress Elizabeth. On the invitation of that 
princess he consented to return to Petersburgh in 
1766. He had for some years suffered from weak- 
ness in the eyes ; and not long after his return to 
Russia he became so nearly blind that he could 
distinguish nothing except very large letters marked 
with chalk on a slate. In this state he continued for 
the remainder of his life ; and by constant exercise he 
acquired a power of recollection, whether of mathe- 
matical formulae or figures, which would be totally 
incredible if it were not supported by strong evi- 
dence. He formed in his head, and retained in his 
memory, a table of the first six powers of all numbers 
up to 100, containing about 3000 figures. Two of 
his pupils had summed seventeen terms of a con- 


verging series, and differed by a unit in the fiftieth 
decimal of the result ; Euler decided between them 
correctly by a mental calculation*. His chief 
amusement during his deprivation was the formation 
of artificial magnets, and the instruction of one of 
his grandchildren in mathematics. His studies 
were in no degree relaxed by it. In 1771 Euler's 
house was destroyed by fire, together with a con- 
siderable part of the city. He was himself saved by 
a fellow-countryman named Grimm, and his manu- 
scripts were also rescued. In 177^ he married the 
aunt of his first wife. No other event worthy of 
special notice occurred before his death, which took 
place suddenly September 7, 1783. He had been 
employed in calculating the laws of the ascent of 
balloons, which were then newly introduced ; he 
afterwards dined with his family and M. Lexell, his 
pupil, conversed with them on the newly-discovered 
planet of Herschel, and was amusing himself with 
one of his grandchildren ; suddenly the pipe which 
lie held in his hand dropped on the ground, and it 
was found that f " life and calculation were at an 
end." He had thirteen children, of whom only 
three survived him : one of them, John Albert Euler, 
was known as a mathematician. 

Of the scientific character of Euler it is impossible 
to speak in detail, since even the resume of M. Con- 
dorcet, which is much longer than any account we 
can here insert, is meagre in the extreme ; and we 
imagine that the reader would form no idea whatso- 

• We suspect some mistake in this account, which is constantly 
given. A very surprisin;^ story oujjht to be consistent : now it is tliflicutt 
to believe that any series which was actually employed in practice (and 
]>eople do not sum series to tifvy places for amusement) would couverfje 
fco quickly as to give fifty places in seventeen terms. Tlie well-known 
series for the base of Napier's logarithms is called a rapidly cmvergin;; 
ierics, ami gives about fifteen places in seveuteen terms. We cannot 
help ihiukiu!;, either that Euler settled one disputed term only, or thiit 
there is some mistake about tlie number of figures . 

•f Ilccssa de calculcr et dc vivre — Condobckt, 

EULER. 349 

ever of the man we are describing, from any brief 
enumeration of discoveries for which we should be 
able to allow room. In more than fifty years of in- 
cessant thought, Euler wrote thirty separate works 
and more than seven hundred memoirs ; which could 
not altogether be contained in forty large quarto 
volumes. These writings embrace every existing 
branch of mathematics, and almost every conceivable 
application of them, to such an extent, that there is 
no one among mathematicians, past or present, who 
can be placed near to Euler in the enormous variety 
of the subjects which he treated. And the contents 
of these volumes are without exception the original 
fruit of his own brain ; seeing that he left no subject 
as he found it. He is not a diffuse writer, except in 
giving a large number of examples, and this renders 
him in some respects the most instructive of all 
writers. His works are full of the most original 
thoughts developed in the most original manner ; so 
that they have been a mine of information for his 
successors, which is even now far from being ex- 
hausted. Let a student be employed upon any sub- 
ject connected with mathematics, however remotely, 
and he has discovered but little if he has not found 
out that Euler was there before him. 

Of all mathematical writers, Euler is one of the 
most simple, and this in a manner which renders his 
writings not by any means a sound preparation for 
future investigations. Difficulties seem to have dis- 
appeared in the progress, or never to have been en- 
countered ; and the student is rather made to feel 
that Euler could take him anywhere, than furnished 
vdth the means of providing for himself, when his 
guide shall have left him. Hence the writings of 
others, in every way inferior to Euler in elegance 
and simplicity, are to be preferred, and have been 
preferred, for the formation of mathematical power. 

VOL. Ill, X 

350 EULER. 

Euler is to be measured by the assistance which 
he gave to his immediate successors, and here it is 
well known that he paved the way for the research of 
others in a more effectual manner than any of his 
contemporaries. The incessant repetition of his 
name in later authors is sufficient authority for this 
assertion. His writings are the first in which the 
modern analysis is uniformly the instrument of inves- 
tigation. His predecessors, James and John Ber- 
nouilli, had perhaps the largest share in bringing the 
infinitesimal analysis of Newton and Leibnitz to the 
state of power required for extensive application. 
To Euler (besides important extensions) belongs the 
distinct merit of showing how to apply it to physical 
investigations, in conjunction with D'Alembert, who 
ran a splendid and contemporary career of a similar 
character in this respect. But though it would be 
perhaps admitted that there are individual results of 
the latter which exceed anything done by the former, 
in generality of application, there is no comparison 
whatsoever between the extent of the labours of the 

Euler was a man of a simple, reserved, and bene- 
volent mind ; with a strong sense of devotion, and a 
decided religious habit, according to the Calvinism 
of the Established Church of his country. At the 
court of Frederic, he himself conducted the devotions 
of his family every evening ; a practice which then 
and there implied much moral courage, and insensi- 
bility to ridicule. But he possessed humour, for 
when he was asked to calculate the horoscope of one 
of the Russian princes, he quietly suggested that it 
was the official duty of the astronomer, and imposed 
the duty upon a colleague, who doubtless did not feel 
very much flattered by the application. 

There are few men whom the usual biographical 
formulae as to moral character and habits would 


EULER. 351 

better fit than Euler, according to eveiy account 
which has appeared of him. But such praises are 
no distinction ; and it will be more to the purpose to 
state that the only occasion in which he was betrayed 
into printing a word which his eulogists have regretted, 
was in the dispute between Maupertuis and himself 
against others on the principle known by the name of 
least action^ one of the warmest and most angry dis- 
cussions which ever took place. 

Perhaps it is to the quiet abstraction of his life 
that he owed the perpetuity of his tenure of investi- 
gation. Many eminent mathematical discoverers 
have run the brilliant part of their career while com- 
paratively young. Euler " ceased to calculate and 
to live " at once. But it may be that this was a 
part of his natural constitution, and a distinct feature 
of his mind. The nature of his writings rather con- 
firms the latter supposition. There is the same dif- 
ference between them and those of others, that there 
is between conversation and oratory. He seems to 
be moving in his natural element, where others 
are swimming for their lives. 

The best works of Euler for a young mathemati- 
cian to read, in order to get an idea of his style and 
methods, are the '■Analysis Injinitorum,^ and the 
' Treatise on the Integral Calculus.* 





Samuel Johnson was born September 18, 1709, in 
the city of Lichfield, where his father, a man well 
respected for sense and learning, carried on the trade 
of a bookseller, and realised an independence, which 
he afterwards lost by an unsuccessful speculation. 
His mother also possessed a strong understanding. 
From these parents Johnson derived a powerful 
body, and a mind of uncommon force and compass. 
Unfortunately both mind and body were tainted by 
disease : the former by a melancholy, of which he 
said that it had "made him mad all his life — at 
least not sober ;" the latter by that scrofulous dis- 
order called the king's evil, for which, in compliance 
with a popular superstition, recommended by the 
Jacobite principles of his family, he was touched by 
Queen Anne. By this disease he lost the sight of 
one eye, and the other was considerably injured : a 
calamity which combined with constitutional indo- 




lence to prevent his joining in the active sports of 
his school-fellows. Tardy in the performance of 
his appointed tasks, he mastered them with rapidity 
at last, and he early displayed great fondness for 
miscellaneous reading, and a remarkably retentive 
memory. After passing through several country 
schools, and spending near two years in a sort of 
busy idleness at home, he went to Pembroke College, 
Oxford, about the age of sixteen. There he made 
himself more remarkable by wit and humour, and 
negligence of college discipline, than by his labours 
for University distinction : his translation of Pope's 
Messiah into Latin hexameters was the only exercise 
on which he bestowed much pains, or by which he 
obtained much credit. But his high spirits, unless 
the recollections of his earlier years were tinctured 
by his habitual despondency, were but the cloak of a 
troubled mind. " Ah ! Sir," he said to Boswell, 
" 1 was mad and violent. It was bitterness which 
they mistook for frolic. I was miserably poor, and 
I thought to fight my way by my literature and my 
wit, so I disregarded all power and all authority." 
His poverty during this period was indeed extreme ; 
and the scanty remittances by which he was sup- 
ported, in much humiliation and inconvenience, were 
altogether stopped at last by his father's insolvency. 
He had the mortification to be compelled to quit 
Oxford in the autumn of 1731, after three years* 
residence, without taking a degree ; and his father's 
death in the December following threw him on the 
world, with twenty pounds in his pocket. 

He first attempted to gain a livelihood in the 
capacity of usher to a school at Market-Bosworth, 
in Leicestershire. For that laborious and dreary 
task he was eminently unfit, except by talent and 
learning, and he soon quitted a situation which he 
pver remembered with a degree of aversion amount- 



ng to horror. After his marriage he tried the 
experiment of keeping a boarding-house near Lich- 
field, as principal, with little better success. From 
Bosworth he went to Birmingham, in 1733, where 
he composed his first work, a translation of the 
Jesuit Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia. He gained 
several kind and useful acquaintance in the latter 
town, among whom was Mr. Porter, a mercer, 
whose widow he married in 173J. She was double 
his age, and possessed neither beauty, fortune, nor 
attractive manners, yet she inspired him with an 
affection which endured, unchilled by the trials of 
poverty, unchanged by her death, even to the end of 
his own life, as his private records fully testify. She 
died in 1752. 

In March, 1737, Johnson set out for the metro- 
polis, in hopes of mending his fortunes, as a man of 
letters, and especially of bringing on the stage his 
tragedy of Irene. It was long before his desires 
were gratified in either respect. Irene was not per- 
formed till 1749, when his friend and former pupil, 
Garrick, had the management of Drury-Lane. Gar- 
rick's zeal carried it through nine nights, so that 
the author, in addition to one hundred pounds from 
Dodsley for the copyright, had the profit of three 
nights' performance, according to the mode of pay- 
ment then in use. The play however, though bear- 
ing the stamp of a vigorous and elevated mind, and 
by no means wanting in poetical merit, was unfit for 
acting, through its want of pathos and dramatic 
effect : and Johnson perhaps perceived his deficiency 
in these qualities, for he never again wrote for the 
stage. Garrick said of his friend, that he had 
neither the faculty to produce, nor the sensibility to 
receive the impressions of tragedy : and his anno- 
tations upon Shakspeare confirm this judgment. 
His first employment after his arrival in London 



was as a frequent contributor to the Gentleman's 
Magazine, from which, during some years, he de- 
rived his chief support. This was a period of labour, 
poverty, and often of urgent want. Sometimes with- 
out a lodging, sometimes without a dinner, he be- 
came acquainted with the darker phases of a London 
life ; and among other singular characters, a simi- 
larity of fortunes made him acquainted with the 
notorious Richard Savage, whom he regarded with 
affection, and whose life is one of the most powerful 
productions of Johnson's pen. 

In the thoughts suggested, and the knowledge 
taught, by this rough collision with the world, we 
may conjecture his imitation of the third satire of 
Juvenal, entitled London, to have originated. To 
the majority of the nation it was recommended by 
its strong invectives against the then unpopular 
ministry of Sir Robert Walpole, as well as by the 
energy of thought and style, the knowledge of his 
subject, and the lively painting in which it abounds : 
it reached a second edition in the course of a week, 
and Boswell tells us, on contemporary authority, 
that " the first buz of the literary circles was, ' here 
is an unknown poet, greater even than Pope.' " 
Yet this admired poem produced only ten guineas 
to its author, and appears to have done nothing 
towards improving his prospects, or giving a com- 
mercial value to his name: his chief employment 
was still furnished by the Gentleman's Magazine ; 
and in November, 1740, he undertook to report, or 
rather to write, the Parliamentary debates for that 
publication. At that time the privileges of Parlia- 
ment were very strictly interpreted, and the avowed 
publication of debates would have been rigorously 
suppressed. Such a summary however as could be 
preserved in the memory was carried away by per- 
sons employed for the purpose, and the task which 


Johnson undertook was to expand and adorn their 
imperfect hints from the stores of his own eloquence : 
in doing which he took care, as he aftenvards ac- 
knowledged, that " the Whig dogs should not have 
the best of it." The speeches of course were re- 
ferred to fictitious names, and were published under 
the title. Debates of the Senate of Lilliput : but in 
February, 1743, Johnson, on finding that they were 
esteemed genuine, desisted from the employment, 
declaring that he would not be accessary to the 
propagation of falsehood. So scrupulous was he on 
this score, that forty years after, not long before his 
death, he expressed his regret at having been the 
author of fictions that had passed for realities. 

For a detailed account of this early portion of 
Johnson's literary history, we refer the reader to 
Boswell's Life, and the list of Johnson's works 
thereto prefixed, and pass on at once to those greater 
performances, to which he owes his eminent rank 
among British writers. Of these the earliest and 
most celebrated is his Dictionary of the English 
Language. How long the plan of this work had 
been meditated, before it was actually commenced, is 
uncertain : he told Boswell, that his knowledge of 
our language was not the effect of particular study, 
but had grown up insensibly in his mind. That he 
under rated the time and labour requisite for such a 
work, is evident from his promising in his prospectus, 
issued in 1747, to complete it in three years: he 
probably had also under rated the needful know- 
ledge, and amount of preparatoiy study. In fact it 
was not published till 1755. He received for it 
1575/., of which however a very considerable portion 
was spent in expenses. The prospectus was ad- 
dressed to Lord Chesterfield ; who expressed himself 
warmly in favour of the design, and from that time 
forward treated the author with neglect until the 


time of publication drew nigh, when he again 
assumed the character of a patron. Fired at this, 
Johnson repudiated his assistance in a dignified but 
sarcastic letter, which is printed by Boswell. The 
transaction merits notice, for it is characteristic of 
Johnson's independent spirit, and excited at the time 
much curiosity and comment. 

The Dictionary was justly esteemed a wonderful 
work : it established at once the author's reputation 
among his contemporaries, and was long regarded as 
the supreme standard by which disputed points in the 
English language were to be tried. Johnson's chief 
qualification for the task lay in the accuracy of his 
definitions, and the extent of his various and well-re- 
membered reading ; his chief disqualification lay in 
his ignorance of the cognate Teutonic languages, 
the stock from which the bulk and strength of our 
own is derived : and in proportion as the history and 
philosophy of the English language have been more 
extensively studied, has the need of a more learned 
and philosophical work of reference been felt. The 
verbose style of his definitions is rather a fruitful 
theme of ridicule than an important fault. Shortly 
before its publication he received from the University 
of Oxford, which through life he regarded with great 
affection and veneration, the honorary degree of M.A., 
a mark of respect by which he was highly gratified. 

That his labour in composing this work was not 
severe, may be inferred from the variety of literary 
employments in which, during its progress, he found 
time and inclination to engage : among which we 
may select for mention the imitation of Juvenal's 
tenth satire, entitled Vanity of Human Wishes, and 
the periodical paper called the Rambler, which was 
published twice a week, from March 20, 1750, to 
March 17, 1752. Of the whole series, according to 
Boswell, only four papers, and a part of a fifth, were 


contributed by other pens: and it is remarkable, con- 
sidering the general gravity of the subjects, and the 
elaboration of the style, that most of them were 
struck off at a heat, when constitutional indolence 
could procrastinate no longer, without even being 
read over before they were printed. The circulation 
of the work was small; for its merits, which lie 
chiefly in moral instruction and literary criticism, 
were of too grave a cast to ensure favour : the lighter 
parts, and the attempts at humour, are the least 
successful. But its popularity increased as the 
author's fame rose, and fashion recommended his 
grandiloquent style ; and before his death it went 
through numerous editions in a collected form. 

In 1756 he issued proposals for an edition of 
Shakspeare, a scheme which he had contemplated 
as long back as 1745, when he published Miscel- 
laneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, 
He promised to complete it before Christmas, 1757, 
but it did not appear until October, 1765. Imper- 
fectly versed in the antiquities, literature, and lan- 
guage of the Elizabethan era, the source from which 
almost all valuable comment on our early dramatists 
has been drawn, he has done little to elucidate diffi- 
culties or correct errors. His Preface has been es- 
teemed among the most valuable of his critical 
essays. But the perusal of his notes, and especially 
of his summary criticisms on the several plays, will 
confirm Garrick's judgment as to his sensibility, and 
show that he wanted that delicate perception and 
deep knowledge of the workings of the passions 
which were necessary to the adequate fulfilment of 
his most difficult task. 

From April 15, 1758, to April 5, 1760, Johnson 
wrote a second periodical paper, called the Idler. 
Twelve only, out of one hundred and three essays, 
were contributed by his friends ; the rest were gene- 


rally written with as much haste, and are of slighter 
texture, than those of the Rambler. Rasselas, 
Prince of Abyssinia, he wrote in the beginning of 
1759, to defray the expenses of his mother's funeral, 
and pay some trifling debts which she had left. He 
told Sir Joshua Reynolds that it was composed in 
the evenings of one week, and sent to the press in 
portions as it was written. This anecdote affords a 
good instance of Johnson's facility and power, when 
an adequate stimulus was applied: from the rich 
imagery, and the varied, powerful strain of reflection 
which pervade it, and the elaborated pomp of its 
style, it would assuredly be taken for the product of 
mature consideration, labour, and frequent revision. 
For this he received one hundred pounds, and 
twenty-five pounds more at a second edition. It 
has been translated into most European languages. 

In 1762 Johnson accepted a pension of 300/., for 
which he underwent considerable obloquy. This 
was entirely undeserved, though in some sort he had 
brought it on himself by indulging his satirical bias 
and political predilections in a wayward definition of 
the words pension and pensionevy in his Dictionary ; 
where other instances occur of his indulging the hu- 
mour of the moment, whether it prompted him to 
spleen or merriment. Why he should not have ac- 
cepted the pension, no sound reason can be given : 
his Jacobitical predilections, never probably so strong 
as he used to represent them in the heat of argu- 
ment, were lost, like those of others, in the hope- 
lessness of the cause ; and his Toryism naturally led 
him to transfer his full respect and allegiance to the 
reigning king, who never was suspected of an undue 
bias towards Whigism. The sum bestowed was no 
more than an honourable testimony to his literary 
eminence, and a comfortable provision for his de- 
clining age : and as far as it is possible to form an 


opinion on such mattei-s, the gift was unstained by 
any compact, expressed or understood, for political 

Among the more important events of Johnson's 
life, we are bound to mention his acquaintance with 
Mr. Boswell, which commenced in 1763, not only 
because it formed an important article among the 
pleasures of the philosopher's declining years, but 
because it led to the composition and publication of 
the most lively and vivid picture ever given by one 
man of another, the Life of Johnson. By Boswell, 
Johnson was induced, in compliance with a wish 
that he had long before entertained, to undertake a 
journey to the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides : 
and it is remarkable that the first English book of 
travels (as we believe,) into what to the English 
was then almost a terra incognita, should have been 
composed by a man so careless of natural beauty, 
and so little disposed to sacrifice his ease and habits 
to the cravings of curiosity, as Johnson. His de- 
sire to visit that country seems to have arisen rather 
from a wish to study society in a simple form, than 
from any taste for the wild beauties of our Northern 
regions, of which he saw not the most favourable 
specimen, and has given not a flattering account. 
His Journey to the Western Islands will be read 
with pleasure, abounding in acute observation, pas- 
sages of lofty eloquence, and grateful acknowledg- 
ment of the kindness and hospitality which he re- 
ceived ; kindness which his snappish railings against 
the Scotch in general never led him to undervalue 
or forget. His companion and disciple's account of 
their expedition will, liowever, be read with more 
amusement, from presenting such vivid pictures of 
the author himself, as well as of the subject which 
he painted, and of the varied characters to which 
they were introduced, and scenes in wliich they 


intermingled. We may here add that Johnson was 
a resolute unbeliever in the authenticity of Mac- 
pherson's Ossian, against which, in his book, he 
pronounced a decided judgment. He thus gave 
considerable offence to national vanity- To the 
claims of second-sight he was more favourable. 
Throughout life he was influenced by a belief, not 
only in the possibility, but in the occasional exertion, 
of supernatural agencies, beyond the regular opera- 
tion of the laws of nature. 

In 1775, Johnson received from the University of 
Oxford the honorary degree of D.C.L. The same 
degree had been conferred on him some time before 
by the University of Dublin ; but he did not then 
assume the title of Doctor. His only subsequent 
work which requires notice is the Lives of the En- 
glish Poets, written for a collective edition of them, 
which the booksellers were about to publish. To 
the selection of the authors praise cannot be given : 
many ornaments to our literature are omitted, and 
many obscure persons have found a place in the 
collection : this however, probably, was not John- 
son's fault. The publication began in 1779, and 
was not completed till 1781 : the lives have gone 
through many editions by themselves. Though 
strongly coloured by personal and political pre- 
dilections, they contain much sound criticism, and 
form a valuable article in British biography. 

Many incidents connected with Johnson's life, 
his places of residence, his domestication in Mr. 
Thrale's family, his connexion with The Club, and 
the like, have been made generally known by the 
amusing works of Boswell, Mrs. Piozzi, and others. 
Perhaps public curiosity was never so strongly di- 
rected towards the person, habits, and conversation 
of any man known only as an author ; and certainly 




it never has been so amply gratified. Boswell's 
Life of Johnson is unique in its kind. 

His powers of conversation were very great, and 
not only commanded the admiration and deference 
of his contemporaries, but have contributed in a 
principal degree to the upholding of his traditionary 
fame. They were deformed by an assumption of 
superiority, and an intolerance of contradiction or 
opposition, which often betrayed liim into offensive 

[Monument to Pr. 7ohn(oa in Sti Paul's Cathedral.] 


rudeness. Yet his temper was at bottom affectionate 
and humane, his attachments strong, and his charity 
only bounded, and scarcely bounded, by his means. 

The latter years of Dr. Johnson's life were over- 
shadowed by much gloom. Many of his old and 
most valued friends sank into the grave before him ; 
his bodily frame was much shattered by disease ; his 
spirits became more liable to depression ; and his 
sincere and ardent piety was too deeply tinged by 
constitutional despondency to afford him steady com- 
fort and support under his sufferings. He was struck 
by palsy in 1783, but recovered to the use both of 
his bodily and mental faculties. A complication of 
asthma and dropsy put an end to his existence, 
December 13, 1785. During his illness, his anxiety 
for a protracted life was painfully intense : but his 
last hours are described by the bystanders to have 
been calm, happy, and confident. He was buried 
in Westminster Abbey. A statue to his memory 
(a representation of which is given in the preceding 
page) is erected in St. Paul's Cathedral. 




The celebrated King of Prussia was in no respect 
indebted for his personal greatness to the virtues or 
example of his immediate progenitors. His grand- 
father Frederic I., the first of the House of Branden- 
burg who assumed the title of King, was a weak and 
emjrty prince, whose character was taken by his own 
wife to exemplify the idea of infinite littleness. His 
father, Frederic William, was a man of a violent and 
brutal disposition, eccentric and intemperate, whose 
principal, and almost sole pleasure and pursuit was 
the training and daily superintendence of an army 
disproportionately greater than the extent of his do- 
minions seemed to warrant. It is however to the 
credit of Frederic William as a ruler, that, notwith- 
standing this expensive taste, his finances on the 
whole were well and economically administered ; so 


that on his death he left a quiet and happy, though 
not wealthy country, a treasure of nine millions of 
crowns, amountinj]^ to more than a year's revenue, 
and a well-disciplined army of 76,000 men. Thus 
on his accession, Frederic II. (or as, in consequence 
of the ambiguity of his father's name, he is some- 
times called, Frederic III.) found, ready prepared, 
men and money, the instruments of war; and for 
this alone was he indebted to his father. He was 
born January 24, 1712. From Frederic William, 
parental tenderness was not to be expected. His 
treatment of his whole family, wife and children, was 
brutal : but he showed a particular antipathy to his 
eldest son, from the age of fourteen upwards, for 
which no reason can be assigned, except that the 
young prince manifested a taste for literature, and 
preferred books and music to the routine of military 
exercises. From this age, his life was embittered by 
continual contradiction, insult, and even personal 
violence. In 1730, he endeavoured to escape by 
flight from his father's control : but, this intention 
being revealed, he was arrested, tried as a deserter, 
and condemned to death by an obedient court- 
martial ; and the sentence, to all appearance, would 
have been carried into effect, had it not been for the 
interference of the Emperor of Germany, Charles VI. 
of Austria. The king yielded to his urgent entreaties, 
but with much reluctance, saying, " Austria will 
some day perceive what a serpent she warms in her 
bosom." In 1732, Frederic procured a remission of 
this ill treatment by contracting, much against his 
will, a marriage with Elizabeth Christina, a princess 
of the house of Brunswick. Domestic happiness he 
neither sought nor found ; for it appears that he 
never lived with his wife. Her endowments, mental 
and personal, were not such as to win the affections 
of so fastidious a man, but her moral qualities and 


conduct are highly commended ; and, except in the 
resolute avoidance of her society, her husband 
through life treated her with high respect. From 
the time of his marriage to his accession, Frederic 
resided at Rheinsberg, a village some leagues north- 
east of Berlin. In 1734, he made his first campaign 
with Prince Eugene, but without displaying, or find- 
ing opportunity to display, the military talents by 
which he was distinguished in after-life. From 
1732 however to 1740, his time was principally de- 
voted to literary amusements and society. Several 
of his published works were written during this 
period, and among them the ' Anti-MachiaveT ' and 
' Considerations on the Character of Charles XII. :' 
he also devoted some portion of his time to the study 
of tactics. His favourite companions were chiefly 
Frenchmen: and for French manners, language, 
cookery, and philosophy, he displayed through life a 
very decided preference. 

The early part of Frederic's life gave little promise 
of his future energy as a soldier and statesman. The 
flute, embroidered clothes, and the composition of 
indifferent French verses, seemed to occupy the at- 
tention of the young dilettante. His accession to 
the throne, May 31, 1740, called his dormant 
energies at once into action. He assumed the entire 
direction of government, charging himself with those 
minute and daily duties which princes generally 
commit to their ministers. To discharge the mul- 
tiplicity of business which thus devolved on him, he 
laid down strict rules for the regulation of his time 
and employments, to which, except when on active 
service, he scrupulously adhered. Until an advanced 
period of life he always rose at four o'clock in the 
morning ; and he bestowed but a few minutes on his 
dress, in respect of which he was careless, even to 
slovenliness. But peaceful employments did not 

FREDERIC 11. 367 

satisfy his active mir^d. His father, content with the 
possession of a powerful armv, had never used it as 
an instrument of conquest : Frederic, in the first year 
of his reign, undertook to wrest from Austria the 
province of Silesia On that country, which, from 
its adjoining situation, was a most desirable acquisi- 
tion to the Prussian dominions, it appears that he 
liad some hereditary claims, to the assertion of which 
the time was favourable. At the death of Charles 
VI., in October 1740, the hereditary dominions of 
Austria devolved on a young female, the afterwards 
celebrated Maria Theresa. Trusting to her weakness, 
Frederic at once marched an army into Silesia. 
The people, being chiefly Protestants, were ill af- 
fected to their Austrian rulers, and the greater part 
of the country, except the fortresses, fell without a 
battle into the King of Prussia's possession. In the 
following campaign, April 10, 1741, was fought the 
battle of Molwitz, which requires mention, because 
in this engagement, the first in which he commanded, 
Frederic displayed neither the skill nor the courage 
which the whole of his subsequent life proved him 
really to possess. It was said that he took shelter 
in a windmill, and this gave rise to the sarcasm, 
that at Molwitz the King of Prussia had covered 
himself with glory and with flour. The Prussians 
however remained masters of the field. In the 
autumn of the same year they advanced within two 
days' march of Vienna ; and it was in this extremity 
of distress that Maria Theresa made her celebrated 
and affecting appeal to the Diet of Hungary. A 
train of reverses, summed up by the decisive battle 
of Czaslaw, fought May 17, 1742, in which Frederic 
displayed both courage and conduct, induced Austria 
to consent to the treaty of Breslaw, concluded in 
the same summer, by which Silesia, with the excep- 
tion of a small district, was ceded to Prussia, of 


which kingdom it has ever since continued to forai a 

But though Prussia for a time enjoyed peace, the 
state of European politics was far from settled, and 
Frederic's time was much occupied by foreign di- 
plomacy, as well as by the internal improvements 
which always were the favourite objects of his soli- 
citude. The rapid rise of Prussia was not regarded 
with indifference by other powers. The Austrian 
government was inveterately hostile, from offended 
pride, as well as from a sense of injury ; Saxony 
took part with Austria ; Russia, if not an open 
enemy, was always a suspicious and unfriendly neigh- 
bour; and George II. of England, the King of 
Pnissia's uncle, both feared and disliked his nephew. 
Under these circumstances, upon the formation of the 
triple alliance between Austria, England, and 
Sardinia, Frederic concluded a treaty with France 
and the Elector of Bavaria, who had succeeded 
Charles VI. as Emperor of Germany ; and antici- 
pated the designs of Austria upon Silesia, by march- 
ing into Bohemia in August, 1744. During two 
campaigns the war was continued to the advantage 
of the Prussians, who, under the command of Frederic 
in person, gained two signal ^^ctories with inferior 
numbers, at Hohenfriedberg and Soor. At the end 
of December, 1745, he found himself in possession of 
Dresden, the capital of Saxony, and in condition to 
dictate terms of peace to Austria and Saxony, by 
which Silesia was again recognised as part of the 
Prussian dominions. 

Five years were thus spent in acquiring and main- 
taining possession of this important province. The 
nextten years of Frederic II. 's life passed in profound 
peace. During this period he applied himself dili- 
gently and successfully to recruit his army, and re- 
novate the drained resources of Prussia. His habits 


of life were singularly uniform. He resided chiefly 
at Potsdam, apportioning his time and his employ- 
ments with methodical exactness ; and, by this strict 
attention to method, he was enabled to exercise a 
minute superintendence over every branch of govern- 
ment, without estranging himself from social plea- 
sures, or abandoning his literary pursuits. After 
the peace of Dresden he commenced his ' Histoire de 
mon Temps,' which, in addition to the history of 
his own wars in Silesia, contains a general account 
of European politics. About the same period he 
wrote his ' Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg,' 
the best of his historical works. He maintained an 
active correspondence with Voltaire, and others of 
the most distinguished men of Europe. He esta- 
blished, or rather restored, the Academy of Sciences 
of Berlin, and was eager to enrol eminent foreigners 
among its members, and to induce them to resort to 
his capital ; and the names of Voltaire, Euler, Mau- 
pertuis. La Grange, and others of less note, testify 
his success. But his avowed contempt for the Ger- 
man, and admiration of the French literature and 
language, in which all the transactions of the Society 
were carried on, gave an exotic character to the in- 
stitution, and crippled the national benefits which 
might have been expected to arise from it. In 1751, 
after a considerable expenditure of flattery, Frederic 
induced Voltaire to take up his residence at Potsdam. 
From this step he anticipated much pleasure and ad- 
vantage, and for a time everything appeared to pro- 
ceed according to his wishes. The social suppers in 
which he loved to indulge after the labours of the 
day, were enlivened by the poet's brilliant talents ; 
and the poet's gratitude for the royal friendship and 
condescension was manifested in his assiduous cor- 
rection of the royal writings. For a time each was 
delighted with the other; but the mutual regard 



which these two sin^lar characters had conceived 
was soon dissipated upon closer acquaintance, and, 
after many undignified quarrels, they parted in the 
spring of 1753 in a manner discreditable to both. 
In the cause of education Frederic was active, both 
by favouring the universities, to which he sought to 
secure the services of the best professors, and by the 
establishment of schools wherever the circumstances 
of the neighbourhood rendered it desirable. It is 
said that he sometimes founded as many as sixty 
schools in a single year. This period of his reign is 
also marked by the commencement of that revision 
of the Prussian law (a confused and corrupt mixture 
of Roman and Saxon jurisprudence) which led to 
the substitution of an entirely new code. In this im- 
portant business the Chancellor Cocceii took the 
lead ; but the system established by him underwent 
considerable alterations from time to time, and at 
last was remodelled in 1781. For the particular 
merits or imperfections of the code, the lawyers who 
drew it up are answerable, rather than the monarch ; 
but the latter possesses the high honour of having 
proved himself, in this and other instances, sincerely 
desirous to assure to his subjects a pure and ready ad- 
ministration of justice. Sometimes this desire, joined 
to a certain love and habit of personal inquiry into 
all things, led the king to a meddling and mischievous 
interference with the course of justice, as in the in- 
stance of the miller Arnold, which probably is fami- 
liar to most readers ; but in all cases his intention 
• seems to have been pure, and his conduct proves him 
sincere in the injunction to his judges : — " If a suit 
arises between me and one of my subjects, and the 
case is a doubtful one, you should always decide 
against me." If, as in the celebrated imprisonment 
of Baron Trenck, he chose to perform an arbitrary 
action, he did it openly, not by tampering witlx 


courts of justice: but these despotic measures were 
not frequent, and few countries have ever enjoyed a 
fuller practical licence of speech and printing than 
Prussia under a simply despotic form of government, 
administered by a prince naturally of impetuous 
passions and stem and unforgiving temper. That 
temper, however, was kept admirably within bounds, 
and seldom suffered to appear in civil affairs. His 
code is remarkable for the abolition of torture, and 
the toleration granted to all religions. The latter 
enactment, however, required no great share of libe- 
rality from Frederic, who avowed his indifference to 
all religions alike. In criminal cases he was opposed 
to severe punishments, and was always strongly 
averse to shedding blood. To his subjects, both in 
person and by letter, he was always accessible, and 
to the peasantry in particular he displayed paternal 
kindness, patience, and condescension. But, on the 
other hand, his military system was frightfully se- 
vere, both in its usual discipline and in its punish- 
ments. Numbers of soldiers deserted, or put an end 
to their lives, or committed crimes that they might 
be given up to justice. Yet his kindness and famili- 
arity in the field, and his fearless exposure of his own 
person, endeared him exceedingly to his soldiers, 
and many pleasing anecdotes, honourable to both 
parties, are preserved, especially during the cam- 
paigns of the Seven Years' War. 

During this peace Austria had recruited her 
strength, and with it her inveterate hostility to 
Prussia ; and it became known to Frederic that a 
secret agreement for the conquest and partition of 
his territories existed between Austria, Russia, and 
Saxony. The circumstances of the times were such 
that, though neither France nor England were 
cordially disposed towards him, it was yet open to 
him to negotiate an alliance with either. Frederic 


chose that of England; and France, forgetting 
ancient enmities, and her ob\nous political interest, 
immediately took part with Austria. The odds of 
force apparently were overwhelming ; but, having 
made up his mind, the King of Prussia displayed his 
usual promptitude. He demanded an explanation 
of the views of the court of Vienna, and, on re- 
ceiving an unsatisfactory answer, signified that he 
considered it a declaration of war. Knowing that 
the court of Saxony, contrary to existing treaties, 
was secretly engaged in the league against him, 
he marched an army into the electorate in August 
1756, and, almost unopposed, took military posses- 
sion of it. He thus turned the enemy's resources 
against himself, and drew from that unfortunate 
country continual supplies of men and money, with- 
out which he could scarcely have supported the 
protracted struggle which ensued, and which is 
celebrated under the title of the Seven Years' War. 
The events of this war, however interesting to a 
military student, are singularly unfit for concise 
narration, and that from the veiy circumstances 
which displayed the King of Prussia's talents to 
most advantage. Attacked on every side, com- 
pelled to hasten from the pursuit of a beaten, to 
make head in some other quarter against a threaten- 
ing enemy, the activity, vigilance, and indomitable 
resolution of Frederic must strike all those ^^'ho 
read these campaigns at length, and with the neces- 
sary help of maps and plans, though his profound 
tactical skill and readiness in emergencies may be 
fully appreciable only by the learned. But when 
these complicated events are reduced to a bare list 
of marches and countermarches, victories, and 
defeats, the spirit vanishes, and a mere caput 
mortuum remains. The war being necessarily de- 
fensive, Frederic could seldom carry the seat of 

FREDERIC 11. 373 

action into an enemy's country. The Prussian 
dominions were subject to continual ravage, and 
that country, as well as Saxony, paid a heavy price 
that the possession of Silesia might be decided 
between two rival sovereigns. Upon the whole, 
the first campaigns were favourable to Prussia ; but 
the confessed superiority of that power in respect of 
generals (for the King was admirably supported by 
Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, Prince Henry of 
Prussia, Schwerin, Keith, and others) could not 
always countervail the great superiority of force 
with which it had to contend. The celebrated 
victory won by the Prussians at Prague, May 6, 
1757, was balanced by a severe defeat at Kolin, the 
result, as Frederic confesses, of his own rashness; 
but, at the end of autumn, he retrieved the reverses 
of the summer by the brilliant victories of Rosbach, 
and Leuthen or Lissa. In 1758, Frederic's con- 
tempt of his enemy lulled him into a false security, 
in consequence of which he was sui"prised and de- 
feated at Hochkirchen. But the campaigns of 
1759 and 1760 were a succession of disasters by 
which Prussia was reduced to the verge of ruin; 
and it appears, from Frederic's correspondence, 
that, in the autumn of the latter year, his reverses 
led him to contemplate suicide, in preference to con- 
senting to what he thought dishonourable terms of 
peace. The next campaign was bloody and in- 
decisive ; and in the following year the secession of 
Russia and France induced Austria, then much ex- 
hausted, to consent to a peace, by which Silesia 
and the other possessions of Frederic were secured 
to him as he possessed them before the war. So 
that this enormous expense of blood and treasure 
produced no result whatever, except that of esta- 
blishing the King of Prussia's reputation as the 
first living general of Europe. Peace was signed 

374 PREDERIC ir. 

at the castle of Hubertsburg, near Dresden, Feb- 
ruary 15, 1763. 

The brilliant military reputation which Frederic 
had acquired in this arduous contest did not tempt 
him to pursue the career of a conqueror. He had 
risked everything to maintain possession of Silesia ; 
but, if his wTitings speak the real feelings of his 
mind, he was deeply sensible to the sufferings and 
evils which attend upon war. " The state of 
Prussia," he himself says, in the ' Histoire de mon 
Temps,' " can only be compared to that of a man 
riddled with wounds, weakened by loss of blood, 
and ready to sink under the weight of his mis- 
fortunes. The nobility was exhausted^ the com- 
mons ruined, numbers of villages were burnt, of 
towns ruined. Civil order was lost in a total 
anarchy : in a word, the desolation was universal." 
To cure these evils Frederic applied his earnest 
attention ; and by grants of money to those towns 
which had suffered most; by the commencement 
and continuation of various great works of public 
utility ; by attention to agriculture ; by draining 
marshes, and settling colonists in the barren, or 
ruined portions of his country ; by cherishing manu- 
factures (though not always with a useful or judi- 
cious zeal), he succeeded in repairing the exhausted 
population and resources of Prussia with a rapidity 
the more wonderful, because his military establish- 
ment was at the same time recruited and main- 
tained at the enormous number, considering the 
size and wealth of the kingdom, of 200,000 men. 
One of his measures deserves especial notice, the 
emancipation of the peasants from hereditary servi- 
tude. This great undertaking he commenced at 
an early period of his reign, by giving up his own 
seignorial rights over the serfs on the crown 
domains : he completed it in the year 176(', l)y an 




edict abolishing servitude throughout his dominions. 
In 1765, he commenced a gradual alteration in the 
fiscal system of Prussia, suggested in part by the 
celebrated Helvetius. In the department of finance, 
though all his experiments did not succeed, he was 
very successful. He is said, in the course of his 
reign, to have raised the annual revenue to nearly 
double what it had been in his father's time, and 
that without increasing the pressure of the people ; 
and from his last biographer, he has obtained the 
praise of having " arrived, as far as any sovereign 
ever did, at perfection in that part of finance, which 
consists in the extracting as much as possible from 
the people, without overburthening or impoverishing 
them; and receiving into the royal coffers the 
sums so extracted, with the least possible deduc- 

In such cares and in his literary pursuits, among 
which we may especially mention his ' History of 
the Seven Years AV^ar,' passed the time of Frederic 
for ten years. In 1772, he engaged in the nefarious 
project for the first partition of Poland. , Of the 
iniquity of that project it is not necessary to speak ; 
the universal voice of Europe has condemned it. It 
does not seem, however, that the scheme originated, 
as has been said, with Frederic : on the contrary, 
it appears to have been conceived by Catherine II., 
and matured in conversations with Prince Henry, 
the King of Prussia's brother, during a visit to 
St. Petersburg. By the treaty of partition, which 
was not finally arranged till 1777, Prussia gained a 
territory of no great extent, but of importance from 
its connecting Prussia Proper with the electoral 
dominions of Brandenburg and Silesia, and giving 
a compactness to the kingdom, of which it stood 
greatly in need. Frederic made some amends for 
his conduct in this matter by the diligence with 


which he laboured to improve his acquisition. In 
this, as in most circumstances of internal adminis- 
tration, he was very successful; and the country, 
ruined by war, misgovernment, and the brutal sloth 
of its inhabitants, soon assumed the aspect of cheer- 
ful industry. 

The King of Prussia once more led an army into 
the field, when, on the death of the Elector of 
Bavaria, childless, in 1778, Joseph II. of Austria 
conceived the plan of re-annexing to his own 
crown, under the plea of various antiquated feudal 
rights, the greater part of the Bavarian territories. 
Stimulated quite as much by jealousy of Austria 
as by a sense of the injustice of this act, Frederic 
stood out as the assertor of the liberties of Germany, 
and, proceeding with the utmost politeness from 
explanation to explanation, he marched an army 
into Bohemia in July, 1778. The war, however, 
which was terminated in the following spring by the 
peace of Teschen, was one of manoeuvres and 
partial engagements ; in which Frederic's skill in 
strategy shone with its usual lustre, and success, 
on the whole, rested with the Prussians. By the 
terms of the treaty, the Bavarian dominions were 
secured, nearly entire, to the rightful collateral 
heirs, whose several claims were settled, while cer- 
tain minor stipulations were made in favour of 

A few years later, in 1785, Frederic again found 
occasion to oppose Austria, in defence of the in- 
tegrity of the Germanic constitution. The Emperor 
Joseph, in prosecution of his designs on Bavaria, 
had formed a contract with the reigning elector, to 
exchange the Austrian provinces in the Netherlands 
for the Electorate. Dissenting from this arrange- 
ment, the heir to the succession intrusted the advo- 
cacy of his rights to Frederic, who lost no time in 

378 FREDEKIC 11. 

negotiating a confederation among the chief powers 
of Germanv, (known by the name of the Germanic 
League,) to support the constitution of the empire, 
and the rights of its several princes. By this timely 
step Austria was compelled to forego the desired 

At this time Frederic's constitution had begun to 
decay. He had long been a sufferer from gout, the 
natural consequence of indulgence in good eating 
and rich cookery, to which throughout his life he 
was addicted. Towards the end of the year he 
began to experience great difficulty of breathing. 
His complaints, aggravated by total neglect of 
medical advice, and an extravagant appetite, which 
he gratified by eating to excess of the most highly- 
seasoned and unwholesome food, terminated in a 
confirmed dropsy. During the latter months of his 
life he suffered greviously from this complication of 
disorders ; and through this period he displayed 
remarkable patience, and consideration for the 
feelings of those around him. No expression of 
suffering was allowed to pass his lips ; and up to 
the last day of his life he continued to discharge 
with punctuality those political duties which he had 
imposed upon himself in youth and strength. 
Strange to say, while he exhibited this extraordinary 
self-control in some respects, he would not abstain 
from the most extravagant excesses in diet, though 
they were almost always followed by a severe aggra- 
vation of his sufferings. Up to August 15, 1786, 
he continued, as usual, to receive and answer all 
communications, and to despatch the usual routine 
of civil and military business. On the following 
day he fell into a lethargy, from which he only 
partially recovered. He died in the course of the 
night of August 16. 

The published works of the King of Prussia were 


collected in twenty-three volumes, 8vo. Amsterdam, 
1790. We shall here mention, as completing the 
body of his historical works, the " Memoires depuis 
la Paix de Hubertsbourg," and " Memoires de la 
Guerre de 1778." Among his poems, the most 
remarkable is the " Art de la Guerre ;" but these, 
as happens in most cases where the writer has 
thought fit to employ a foreign language, have been 
little known or esteemed, since their author ceased 
to rivet the attention of the world by the brilliance 
of his actions and the singularity of his character. 
A list of Frederic's works is given at the end of the 
article in the " Biographic Universelle." For his 
campaigns, see the works of Lloyd and TemplehofF, 
and Jomini's " Histoire critique et militaire des 
Guerres de Frt^deric II." Among the numerous 
lives of him, we may refer to the " Essai sur la 
Vie et le Regne de Fr^dt5ric II.," by the Abbe 
Denina, who had been employed in the King of 
Prussia's service. Much that relates to him is to 
be found among the writings of Voltaire. The 
lives by Gillies and Lord Dover will satisfy the 
curiosity of the English reader. 


BuFFON is reported to have said — and the vanity 
which was his predominant foible may have given 
some colour to the assertion — " I know but five 
great geniuses, Newton, Bacon, Leibnitz, Montes- 
quieu, and myself." Probably no author ever re- 
ceived from his contemporaries so many excitements 
to such an exhibition of presumption and self-con- 
sequence. Louis XV. conferred upon him a title of 
nobility ; the Empress of Russia was his corre- 
spondent; Prince Henry of Prussia addressed him 
in the language of the most exaggerated compli- 
ment; and his statue was set up during his life- 
time in the cabinet of Louis XVL, with such an 
inscription as is rarely bestowed even upon the most 
illustrious of past ages*. After the lapse of half a 
century we may examine the personal character, 

• Majestati naturae par ing-'uium. 

BUFFON. 381 

and the literary merits, of this celebrated man with 
a more sober judgment. 

The history of Buffon is singularly barren of 
incident. At an early age he devoted himself to 
those studies of natural history which have rendered 
his name so famous ; and at eighty years old he was 
still labouring at the completion of the great plan 
to which he had dedicated his life. 

George Louis le Clerc BufFon was born at Mont- 
bar, in Burgundy, on the 7th September, 1707. 
His father, Benjamin le Cierc, was a man of fortune, 
who could afford to bestow the most careful educa- 
tion upon his children, and leave them unfettered in 
the choice of an occupation. The young Buffon 
had formed an acquaintance at Dijon with an 
Englishman of his own age, the Duke of Kingston. 
The tutor of this nobleman was, fortunately, an 
accomplished student of the physical sciences ; and 
he gave a powerful impulse to the talents of Buffon, 
by leading them forward in their natural direction. 
Without the assistance of this judicious friend, the 
inclination of his mind towards honourable and 
useful exertion might have been suppressed by the 
temptations which too easily beset those who have 
an ample command of the goods of fortune. It 
was not so with Buffon. Although he succeeded, 
at the age of twenty-one, to the estate of his mother, 
which produced him an annual income of 12,000/., 
he devoted himself with unremitting assiduity to the 
acquisition of knowledge. Having travelled in Italy, 
and resided some little time in England, he returned 
to his own country', to dedicate himself to the con- 
stant labours of a man of letters. His first pro- 
ductions were translations of two English works of 
very different character — ' Hales' Vegetable Statics,' 
and 'Newton's Fluxions;' and, following up the 
pursuits for which he exhibited his love in these 

382 BUFFON. 

translations, he carried on a series of experiments 
on the strength of timber, and constructed a burning 
mirror, in imitation of that of Archimedes. 

The devotion to science which BufFon had thus 
manifested marked him out for an appointment 
which determined the course of his future life. His 
friend Du Fay, who was the Intendant of the 
' Jardin du RoV (now called the ' Jardin des 
Plantes^), on his death-bed recommended Buffon as 
the person best calculated to give a right direction 
to this establishment tor the cultivation of natural 
history. BufFon seized upon the opportunities which 
this appointment afforded him of prosecuting his 
favourite studies, with that energetic perseverance 
for which he was remarkable. He saw that natural 
history had to be \\Titten in a manner that might 
render it the most attractive species of knowledge ; 
and that philosophical views, and eloquent descrip- 
tions, might supersede the dry nomenclatures, and 
the loose, contradictory, and too often fabulous nar- 
ratives which resulted from the crude labours of ill- 
informed compilers. To carry forward his favourite 
object, it was necessary that the museum, over which 
he had now the control, should be put in order, and 
rendered more complete. He obtained from the 
government considerable funds for the erection of 
proper buildings ; and the galleries of the ' Jardin 
des Plantes,' which now hold the fine collection of 
mammals and birds, were raised under his superin- 
tendence. Possessing, therefore, the most complete 
means which Europe afforded, he applied himself to 
the great task of describing the animal, vegetable, 
and mineral kingdoms of nature. A large portion 
of this immense undertaking was left unperformed, 
although, to use his own words, he laboured fifty 
years at his desk ; and much of what he accom- 
plished was greatly diminished in value by his deter- 

BUFFON. 383 

mination to see natural objects only through the 
clouded medium of his own theories. But, never- 
theless, he has produced a work which, with all its 
faults, is an extraordinary monument of genius and 
industry, and which will long entitle him to the 
gratitude of mankind. "We read BufFon," says 
Condorcet, " to be interested as well as instructed. 
He will continue to excite a useful enthusiasm for 
the natural sciences ; and the world will long be 
indebted to him for the pleasures with which a young 
mind for the first time looks into nature and the 
consolations with which a soul weary of the storms 
of life reposes upon the sight of the immensity of 
beings peaceably submitted to necessary and eternal 

BuiFon was in some particulars unqualified for 
the laborious duty he had undertaken. He delighted 
to indulge in broad and general views, and to permit 
his imagination to luxuriate in striking descriptions. 
But he had neither the patience, nor the love of 
accuracy, which would have carried him into those 
minute details which give to natural history its 
highest value. He, however, had the merit and 
the good fortune, in the early stages of his under- 
taking, to associate himself with a fellow-labourer 
who possessed those qualities in which he was defi- 
cient. The first fifteen volumes of ' L'Histoire 
Naturelle,' which treat of the theory of the earth, 
the nature of animals, and the history of man and 
viviparous quadrupeds, were published between 1749 
and 1767, as the joint work of BufFon and Dauben- 
ton. The general theories, the descriptions of the 
phenomena of nature, and the pictures of the habits 
of animals, were by BufFon. Daubenton confined 
himself to the precise delineation of their physical 
character, both in their external forms and their 
anatomy. But Daubenton refused to continue his 

384 BUFFON. 

assistance in the 'History of Birds;' for Buffon, 
unwilling that the fame which he had acquired 
should be partaken by one whom he considered only 
as a humble and subordinate labourer, allowed an 
edition of the History of Quadrupeds to be pub- 
lished, of which the descriptive and anatomical 
parts had been greatly abridged. In the History 
of Birds, therefore, Buffon had to seek for other 
associates ; and the form of the work was greatly 
changed from that of the previous volumes. The 
particular descriptions are here very meagre, and 
anatomical details are almost entirely excluded. In 
some of the volumes, Buffon was assisted by Gueneau 
de Montbeillard, who, instead of endeavouring to 
attain the accuracy of Daubenton, affected to imitate 
the style of his employer. To the three last volflmes 
of the Birds the Abbe Bexon lent his aid. The 
nine volumes of Birds appeared between 1770 and 
1783. Buffon published alone his ' History of 
Minerals,' which appeared in five volumes, between 
1783 and 1788. Seven volumes of Supplements 
complete the Natural History. The first appeared 
in 1773; the last was not published till the year 
after its author's death, in 1789. The fifth volume 
of these Supplements is a distinct work, the Epochs 
of Nature*. 

The study of natural history, and the composition 
of his great work, occupied the mind of Buffon from 
his first appointment as Intendant of the ' Jardin du 
Roi,' to within a few days of his death. In the 
prosecution of the plan he had laid down, he never 
permitted the slightest interruption. Pleasure and 
indolence had their attractions ; but they never held 
him for many hours from his favourite pursuits. 
Buffon spent the greater part of his time at Montbar, 

• Tlie best edition of the works of BulTon is the first, of 36 Tols. 4to. 

BUFFON. 385 

where, during some years, his friend Daubenton also 
resided. It was here that Buifon composed nearly 
the whole of his works. Many interesting details 
have been preserved of his habits of life, and his 
mode of composition. He was, like all men who 
have accomplished great literary undertakings, a 
severe economist of his time. The employment of 
every day was fixed with the greatest exactness. He 
used almost invariably to rise at five o'clock, com- 
pelling his man-servant to drag him out of bed 
whenever he was unwilling to get up. " I owe to 
poor Joseph," he used to say, " ten or twelve 
volumes of my works." At the end of his garden 
was a pavilion which served him as a study. Here 
he was seated for many hours of ever}' day, in an 
old leathern chair, before a table of black birch, 
with his papers arranged in a large walnut-tree 
escritoire. Before he began to write he was accus- 
tomed to meditate for a long time upon his subject. 
Composition was to him a real delight ; and he used 
to declare that he had spent twelve or fourteen hours 
successively at his desk, continuing to the last in a 
state of pleasure. His endeavours to obtain the 
utmost correctness of expression furnished a remark- 
able proof of the persevering quality of his mind. 
He composed, and copied, and read his works to 
friends, and re-copied, till he was entirely satisfied. 
It is said that he made eleven transcripts of the 
Epochs of Nature. In his domestic habits there 
was little to admire in the character of Buifon. 
His conversation was trifling and licentious, and 
the grossness which too often discloses itself in his 
writings was ill concealed in his own conduct. He 
paid the most minute attention to dress, and . de- 
lighted in walking to church to exhibit his finery 
to his wondering neighbours. Although he was 
entirely devoid of religious principle, and constantly 

VOL. Ill, z 

386 BUFFON. 

endeavoured in his writings to throw discredit upon 
the belief of a great First Cause, he regularly 
attended high mass, received the communion, and 
distributed alms to pious beggars. In his whole 
character there appears a total absence of that sim- 
plicity which is the distinguishing attribute of men 
of the very highest genius. 

The literary glory of BufFon, although surpassed, 
or even equalled, during his life, by none of his 
contemporaries, with the exception perhaps of Vol- 
taire and Rousseau, has not increased, and is per- 
haps materially diminished, after having been tried 
by the opinions of half a century. In literature, as 
well as in politics, as we have learnt to attach a 
greater value to accurate facts, have we become less 
captivated by the force of eloquence alone. Buifon 
gave an extraordinary impulse to the love of natural 
history, by surrounding its details with splendid 
images, and escaping from its rigid investigations 
by bold and dazzling theories. He rejected classi- 
fication ; and took no pains to distinguish by precise 
names the objects which he described, because such 
accuracy would have impeded the progress of his 
magnificent generalizations. Without classification, 
and an accurate nomenclature, natural history is a 
mere chaos. BufFon saw the productions of nature 
only in masses. He made no endeavour to delineate 
with perfect accuracv any individual of that immense 
body, nor to trace the relations of an individual to 
all the various forms of being by which it is sur- 
rounded. Although he was a profound admirer of 
Newton, and classed Bacon amongst the most illus- 
trious of men, he constantly deviated from the prin- 
ciple of that philosophy upon which all modern 
discovery has been founded. He carried onward his 
hj'potheses with little calculation and less experi- 
ment. And yet, although they are often misapplied, 

BUFFON. 387 

he has collected an astonishing number of facts; 
and even many of his boldest generalities have been 
based upon a sufficient foundation of truth, to furnish 
important assistance to the investigations of more 
accurate inquirers. The persevering obliquity with 
which he turns away from the evidence of Design in 
the creation, to rest upon some vague notions of a 
self-creative power, both in animate and inanimate 
existence, is one of the most unpleasant features of 
his writings. How much higher services might 
Buifon have rendered to natural history had he been 
imbued not only with a spirit of accurate and com- 
prehensive classification, but with a perception of the 
constant agency of a Creator, of both of which 
merits he had so admirable an example in our own 

The style of BufFon, viewed as an elaborate work 
of art, and without regard to the great object of 
style, that of conveying thoughts in the clearest and 
simplest manner, is captivating from its sustained 
harmony and occasional grandeur. But it is a style 
of a past age. Even in his own day, it was a theme 
for ridicule with those who knew the real force of 
conciseness and simplicity. Voltaire described it as 
* emvoule ;* and when some one talked to him of 
' UHistoire I^atureUe,' he drily replied, ' Pas si na- 
iurelle* But Buffon was not carried away by the 
mere love of fine writing. He knew his own power ; 
and, looking at the state of science in his day, he 
seized upon the instrument which was best calculated 
to elevate him amongst his contemporaries. The 
very exaggerations of his style were perhaps ne- 
cessary to render natural history at once attractive 
to all descriptions of people. Up to his time it had 
been a dry and repulsive study. He first clothed it 
with the picturesque and poetical; threw a moral 
sentiment around its commonest details; exhibited 




animals in connexion with man, in his mightiest 
and most useful works ; and described the great 
phenomena of nature with a pomp of language which 
had never before been called to the service of philo- 
sophical investigation. The publication of his works 
carried the study of natural history out of the closets 
of the few, to become a source of delight and in- 
struction to all men. 

Buffon died at Paris on the 16th April, 1788, 
aged 81. He was married, in 1762, to Made- 
moiselle de St. Belin ; and he left an only son, who 
succeeded to his title. This unfortunate young man 

BUFFON. 389 

perished on the scaffold, in 1795, almost one of the 
last victims of the fury of the revolution. When he 
ascended to the guillotine he exclaimed, with great 
composure, " My name is Buffon." 

A succinct and clear memoir of Buffon, by Cuvier, 
in the Biographie Universelle, may be advanta- 
geously consulted. Nearly all the details of his 
private life are derived from a curious work by 
Renault de S»ichelles, entitled Voyage a Montbar, 
which, like many other domestic histories of emi- 
nent men, has the disgrace of being founded upon a 
violation of the laws of hospitality. 



The latter half of the last century was distinguished 
by a rekindling of that spirit of maritime discovery 
which, active at the close of the sixteenth and 
beginning of the seventeenth centuries, had lain com- 
paratively dormant for many years. The voyages 
of Wallis and Carteret, the circumnavigation of the 
globe by Anson, had done something to enlarge our 
knowledge, and to recall to mind the discoveries of 
Dampier, Tasman, and other early navigators of the 
western world. The leading objects, however, of 
those voyages were political and warlike ; the in- 
formation gleaned in them was secondary and inci- 
dental ; and the first exhibition sent out expressly 
for scientific purposes was that under the command 
of Cook, of which we have formerly given a short 
account. The brilliant success of that admirable 
navigator roused France to emulation ; and, under 
the auspices of Louis XVI., a voyage of discovery 


was planned, and intrusted to La Perouse, a name 
well known for the interest excited by his mysterious 
disappearance, and for the frequent and (for a long 
time) fruitless attempts which have been made to 
trace his fate, and which interest has been recently 
renewed by the unexpected discovery of the place 
and manner in which he perished. 

Jean Francois Galaup de la Perouse was born at 
Albi, in 1741, where he entered the French marine 
in 1756; and, after passing regularly through the 
subordinate ranks, in the course of which he saw 
some active service, was promoted to the command 
of a frigate in 1778, In that year hostilities broke 
out between France and England, in the course of 
which La Perouse had the honour of capturing 
more than one British ship of war. In 1782 he 
was appointed to command a small squadron sent 
to attack our settlements in Hudson's Bay. The 
object of the expedition was trifling, being confined, 
to the capture of a few insignificant forts, which 
made no resistance. But La Perouse had the 
opportunity of displaying his merits as a seaman 
in the successful navigation of a tempestuous and 
icy sea, rendered more dangerous by the prevalence 
of thick fogs ; and the credit which he thus acquired 
caused him to be selected as a proper leader in an 
intended voyage of discovery. He is entitled to 
still higher praise for his humanity, in leaving a 
provision of food and arms for the support and 
protection of those English residents who had fled 
into the woods on his approach. 

The expedition in question was planned in con- 
formity with the views of Louis XVI. Attached to 
the science, and well versed in the study of geography, 
he was desirous, on behalf of France, at once of 
emulating the glory which England had just ac- 
quired through Cook's discoveries, and of opening 


new channels for her commerce in the most distant 
regions. A rough draught of the intended course was 
made out in conformity with the king's views, and 
submitted to his perusal; and the nature of the 
scheme is concisely explained in a few sentences 
appended to the document by Louis himself. " To 
sum up the contents of this paper, and my own 
observations on them, the objects in view belong to 
the two heads of commerce and discovery. Of the 
former class there are two principal ones : the whale 
fishery in the southern ocean, and the trade in furs 
in the north-west of America, for transport to China, 
and, if possible, to Japan. Among the points to be 
explored, the principal are the north-west of Ame- 
rica, which falls in with the commercial part of the 
scheme; the seas round Japan, which do the same, 
but I think the season proposed for this in the paper 
is ill chosen ; the Solomon Islands, and the south- 
west of New Holland. All other objects must be 
made subordinate to these : we must confine ourselves 
to what is most useful, and can be accomplished 
without difficulty in the three years proposed." 

La Perouse's official instructions were only a 
development of this sketch. Men of science were 
invited to communicate their views as to the objects 
to be pursued, and the best manner of pursuing 
them ; and the expedition was fitted out with every 
appliance calculated to promote its success. It 
consisted of two frigates, La Boussole, commanded 
by La Perouse, and L' Astrolabe, commanded by an 
accomplished officer, his friend, named Delangle; 
each of them with a complement of a hundred men. 
They sailed August 1, 1785, doubled Cape Horn 
without adventures worthy of notice, and cast 
anchor in the Bay of La Conception, February 22, 
1786. Hence he steered northward, touching at 
Easter and the Sandwich Islands, until he reached 


the coast of America, at Mount St. Elias, in about 
the sixtieth degree of north latitude. In prosecution 
of the first part of his instructions, he ran down 
southwards, examining the coast minutely, to the 
harbour of Monterey, in California, a distance of 
between five and six hundred leagues : hence he 
sailed for Japan, September 24. In crossing the 
Pacific, the group of small islands named after the 
statesman Necker was discovered. During this run, 
the two frigates, which were instructed always to 
keep close to each other, were in imminent danger 
of being wrecked on an unknown reef. They were 
upon it so suddenly, that La Boussole was thought 
scarcely to have cleared the rock by a hundred 
fatlioms. They reached Macao without more ad- 
ventures, visited Manilla, where they spent some 
time, and then set sail for the Japanese isles, and 
the coast of Tartary, a part of the globe little known, 
except through the reports of missionaries. La 
Perouse sailed up the narrow channel called the 
Gulf of Tartary, lying between the Asiatic continent 
and the almost unknown island of Segalien, or 
Sagalin. His progress was stopped by shoals, con- 
sisting of the deposits brought down by the river 
Amoor ; but he went far enough to be satisfied that 
Sagalin is not united to the continent ; and his 
belief has since been shown to be correct. He dis- 
covered and gave his own name to the strait which 
separates that island from the neighbouring one of 
Jesso, or Matsmai ; and having thus ascertained 
that the land to the north of the principal island of 
Japan, hitherto believed to be one island, consisted 
of two, he sailed northward, traversing the Kurile 
Islands, visited Kamtschatka, and, passing south- 
wards by the Friendly Islands, dropped anchor in 
Botany Bay, January 16, 1788. 

It should be mentioned that from the harbour of 


St. Peter and St. Paul, in Kamtschatka, M. de 
Lesseps was despatched home overland, bearing the 
navigator's charts and journals up to the period of 
their arrival at that place. To this precaution the 
world owes that any record of La Perouse's wan- 
derings and discoveries has been preserved ; for 
neither vessel ev^r was seen or heard of, after they 
left Botany Bay. The last communication which 
reached home from La Perouse was dated February 
7, 17b8; and expressed his intention of returning 
to the Friendly Islands, of exploring the southern 
coast of New Caledonia, and the Louisiade of Bou- 
gainville. He proposed to coast the western side of 
New Holland to Van Dieman's Land, so as to 
arrive at the Mauritius in the close of the same 
year. Of this scheme but a small portion could 
have been executed. Both ships were lost, there is 
every reason to believe, on the island of Mallicolo, 
or Vanicoro, one of the New Hebrides, a group 
lying about the sixteenth degree of south latitude ; 
but the exact time and circumstances remain un- 
known, for not one of the crews ever reached an 
European settlement. When the non-arrival of 
La Perouse in France began to be the subject of 
alarm, an expedition was fitted out under Admiral 
d'Entrecasteaux, with orders strictly to pursue the 
route laid down above, and to use every means of 
ascertaining the fate of, and, if they yet livQil, minis- 
tering relief to, his unfortunate countrymen. The 
service was performed with zeal and ability, but 
without success. Chance led a private English 
trader to the solution of this question, vainly, yet 
anxiously, sought for many years. 

In 1813, Mr. Dillon, a subordinate officer on 
board a Calcutta trading-vessel, escaped almost by 
miracle from an affray with the natives of the Fegee, 
or Bee tee islands, a group lying to the west of the 


Friendly Islands, *about the eighteenth degree of 
south latitude, in which fourteen of the ship's crew 
were killed, and of his immediate companions only 
two surv'ived. One of these was a Prussian, named 
Martin Busshart, who had been for son e time on 
the island where this tragical event occui red. This 
man, certain of being sacrificed to the revenge of 
the natives, of whom many were killed, if he re- 
mained there, requested to be transpoi ted to some 
other spot ; and he was put ashore u] on an island 
named Tucopia. In time Mr. Dillon became owner 
and commander of a vessel named thij St. Patrick, 
and, being again in those seas, he visited Tucopia in 
May, 1826, to procure some tidings of his old com- 
panion in danger. Here a silver sword-guard was 
offered for sale. Inquiry being made how the article 
was obtained, it was replied that, " when the old 
men in Tucopia were boys," two ships had been 
wrecked on an island not very far off, called Malli- 
colo, or Vanicoro, and that there yet remained large 
quantities of the wreck. Captain Dillon guessed 
that these might be La Perouse's vessels, and made 
sail for the island pointed out ; but he was baffled 
by adverse circumstances, and forced to pursue his 
course to Calcutta without obtaining the desired 
satisfaction. Arrived at the capital of India, he 
laid before the government information and evidence 
which was deemed sufficiently conclusive to warrant 
the fitting out a ship, named the Research, with the 
design of fetching off two white men, who were said 
to have escaped, and to be living on the island ; or, 
at least, to seek, by inquiry on the spot, some con- 
clusive evidence of the fate of La Perouse. Captain 
Dillon reached Vanicoro, and obtained an ample 
harvest of European articles, both in wood and 
metal. The tale told by the natives was simple and 
probable : "A long time ago the people of this 


island, upon coming out one mq^ning, saw part of 
a ship on the reef opposite to Paiow, where it held 
together till the middle of the day, when it was 
broken by the sea, fell to pieces, and large parts of 
it floated on shore along the coast. The ship got 
on the leef in the night, when it blew a tremendous 
hurricane, which broke down a considerable number 
of our fiuit-trees. We had not seen the ship the 
day befoie. Four men were saved from her, and 
were on the beach at this place, whom we were 
about to kill, supposing them to be spirits, when 
they made a present to our chief of something, 
and thus saved their lives. Tliey lived with us a 
short time, and then joined their people at Paiow, 
who built a small ship there, and went away in it. 
The things which we sell you now have been pro- 
cured from the ship wrecked on that reef, on which, 
at low water, our people were in the habit of diving, 
and bringing up what they could find. The same 
night another ship struck on a reef near Whannow, 
and went down, There were several men saved 
from her, who built a little ship and went away 
five moons after the big one was lost. While build- 
ing it they had a great fence of trees round them, to 
keep off the islanders, who being equally afraid of 
them, they consequently kept up but little intercourse. 
The white men used often to look at the sun through 
something, but we have none of those things. Two 
white men remained behind after the last went away ; 
the one was a chief, and the other a common man, 
who used to attend on the white chief, who died 
about three years ago. The chief, with v/hom the 
white man resided, was obliged, about two years and 
a half ago, to fly from his country, and was accom- 
panied by the white man. The only white people 
the inhabitants of this island have ever seen were, 
first, the people of the wrecked ship ; and, secondly. 


those before me now." — Dillon's Discovery of the 
Fate of La Perouse, vol. ii. p. 194. 

Whannow and Paiovv are two villages about ten 
nautical miles distant from each other in a straight 
line, on the western side of the island, which is 
nearly surrounded by an abrupt and dangerous coral 
reef. The climate is reported to be wet and hazy, 
so that probably the sufferers were not aware of their 
approach to danger till all chance of escape was 
past. The story just related is consistent and pro- 
bable, and it was confirmed by examination of the 
shore at Paiow, where a small cleared space, of 
about an acre (the only one on the island), was 
found, in a place well suited for building and 
launching a ship ; and in the neighbourhood of 
which stumps of trees, evidently felled with axes 
many years before, were discovered. The spot where 
one of the ships had struck was ascertained, and 
some heavy articles, as guns, raised in the shallov/ 
water on the reef. No trace of the others could be 
found ; and it was said by the natives to have gone 
down in deep water. Captain Dillon returned to 
Calcutta, an4 thence to England, bringing the ar- 
ticles he had obtained along with him. 

No doubt can be entertained but that two French 
ships apparently ships of war, were wrecked at 
Vanicoro. There are no other vessels, whose loss is 
to be accounted for, and the apparent length of time 
since their destruction corresponds with the date of 
La Perouse's expedition. There is therefore the 
strongest presumptive evidence for concluding that 
the fate of that intrepid navigator is at length re- 
vealed : but the articles collected, though indis- 
putably belonging to French ships, could not be 
conclusively identified as having been on board La 
Boussole and L'Astrolabe, It was suggested that 
the point might be determined by comparing the 

VOL. III. 2 A 


marks of the cannon \vith the re^sters of the French 
ordnance, in which the numbers and weight of the 
^ns supplied to each ship would of course be set 
down. We do not know whether, or with what 
success, this has been done. But the French go- 
vernment appears to have been satisfied ; for on 
visiting Paris Captain Dillon received the personal 
thanks of Charles X., and the cross of the Legion of 
Honour, together with a liberal pecuniary reward 
for his exertions. 

The French, even during the excitement of the 
early part of the revolution, manifested a lively 
interest for La Perouse and his crew. D'Entre- 
casteaux, we have said, was sent out expressly in 
quest of them ; and a reward was offered to who- 
soever should bring intelligence of their fate, which 
Captain Dillon was the first to claim. A narrative 
of the voyage, compiled from the papers brought 
home by JVI . de Lesseps, was printed in four quarto 
volumes, with an atlas, at Paris, 1797, at the na- 
tional expense, and a certain number of copies being 
reserved, the rest of the impression was presented to 
La Pe;'ouse's widow, who continued to receive her 
husband's pay. Recently the " Voyage de La Pe- 
rouse" has been compiled from the original docu- 
ments, with notes by M. de Lesseps, in an octavo 
volume, with an Appendix, containing an account 
of Captain Dillon's researches, and of the voyage of 
a French ship, L'Astrolabe, which was engaged at 
the same time in the same office. To this work, to 
Captain Dillon's publication above quoted, and to 
the " Bulletins de la Societe de Geographic," we 
refer the reader for a full account of all that is 
known of the progress and catastrophe of this ce- 
lebrated expedition. 


Among those persons who possess the highest claim 
to the gratitude of mankind, that of having devoted 
their lives, without a selfish motive, to the allevia- 
tion of human misery, the Abbe de I'Epee claims a 
high and honourable place. Time, as is usual in 
cases of real excellence, has established on a sure 
basis merits which were at first slowly acknow- 
ledged. Unknown, and unappreciated, this good 
man lived for many years in obscurity ; and, worse 
than this, he had to endure intolerance and persecu- 
tion during the greater part of his beneficent career. 
There exists no memoir worthy of his exalted cha- 
racter. The brilliant genius of Bouilly has glanced 
upon his virtues and his talents ; the eulogy of 
Btbian (himself a living and a worthy successor in 
the art of teaching the deaf and dumb) has shed 
additional lustre on a fame already bright ; but still 
we have much to desire. Our glimpses of the good 


400 THE ABBlS DE l'ePEE. 

Abbe5 in his public capacity, and in the retirement 
whicli he loved and courted, only present us with a 
faint outline of his character, — an outline, however, 
which is sufficiently distinct to show that the 
finished picture would have been surpassingly beau- 

Charles Michel de I'Epee was born at Versailles, 
in November, 1712. His father was the king's 
architect, a man of distinguished talents and enlight- 
ened piety. He devoted himself to the instruction of 
his children, and taught them from their earliest 
years to moderate their desires, to fear God, and to 
love their neighbour. Under such a guide, the do- 
cile heart of young De I'Epee imbibed its first feel- 
ings of virtue. The thought of evil was as displeas- 
ing as evil itself to his pure mind, so strictly had he 
been trained in the love of things " honest, just, pure, 
lovely, and of good report." It is said that when, 
at an advanced age, he looked back upon his long 
career, he did not remember to have had more than 
one trial to sustain ; and the humility which adorned 
his life led him to consider virtue which had been 
thus acquired without effort as possessing no merit. 
The piety which directed all his actions, and the 
obedience to the precepts of the Gospel which regu- 
lated his will, seemed peculiarly to fit him for the 
service of the altar. To this service his early wishes 
tended, and his parents, who at first resisted, at 
length complied with his requests. 

He received an education to fit him for the church, 
but at the commencement of his career he liad to 
encounter difficulties and opposition. When he 
presented himself for admission into the priesthood, 
probably as a deacon, according to the established 
practice of the diocese of Paris, he was required to 
sign a formulary of faith. As he was a Jansenist, 

THE ABBE DE l'ePEE. 401 

and as the form prescribed was contrary to his prin- 
ciples, he refused to avow by his hand what his con- 
science disapproved. Notwithstanding this, he was 
admitted to the rank of deacon, but was at the same 
time told never to pretend to holy orders. This 
humble station in the ministrj' was too humiliatinor 
for even this lowly-minded man. His breast glowed 
with ardent charity towards mankind which he 
longed to put into practice, but which could find no 
fit sphere for action in his humble office at the foot 
of the altar The intolerance of those ecclesiastics 
who stood in the way of his preferment in the church 
obliged him to direct his attention to the bar, to 
which his parents had at first destined him : he 
passed through the course of prescribed studies, and 
took tlie customary oath. In the practice of the law 
De I'Epee could find no pleasure. Its scenes of 
violence, cunning, and cupidity, its hatreds, divisions, 
chicanery and fuiy, too deeply affected his mild and 
tranquil spirit. All his wishes were directed to the 
service of the altar ; his only desire was to be a mi- 
nister of the Gospel of peace, and at last he was suc- 

A nephew of the learned and liberal Bossuet, who 
seems to have emulated his uncle in piety and libe- 
ralitj'-, was at this period the bishop of Troyes. This 
good man loved to call around him ecclesiastics of 
strict piety. Through his means M. de I'Epee was 
regained to the church ; he was ordained to the sa- 
cred office, and received a canonry in the cathedral of 
Troyes. He now devoted himself to the preaching 
of the Gospel ; and he knew how to render pleasing 
by his example those precepts which penetrated the 
hearts of his hearers. Love towards our neighbour 
was his predominant theme, and his efforts produced 
abundant fruits. His happiness was not of long du- 
ration. M. de Bossuet died, and Providence liad 

402 THE ABBE DE l'ePEE. 

decreed new trials for M. de I'Ept^. About this 
time M. de Soanen was persecuted for holding the 
religious principles of the Jansenists ; and his friend 
M. de I'Epee, who held the same opinions as this 
virtuous prelate, was included in the same interdic- 
tion. Never was there a devotion less offensive, or a 
creed more tolerant than that professed by this 
worthy man. His eulogist says of him, " He spoke 
rarely to persons of a different opinion of the objects 
of their faith. When he was led into such subjects, 
his discussions never degenerated into disputes ; he 
had the talent of keeping them within the boundary 
of those agreeable conversations where confidence 

Circumstances apparently accidental, which will 
be related, led M. de I'Ept^e to devote himself to the 
wants of the deaf and dumb. In earlier times some 
learned individuals had bestowed some attention 
upon the means of educating this unfortunate class 
of mankind, but they had done this philosophically 
rather than practically. One of the first of these ex- 
perimenters was Pedro de Ponce, a Benedictine 
monk of Leon, who lived between the years 1520 
and 1584. Paul Bonet, also a Spaniard, taught 
several deaf and dumb persons, and published the 
first known work on the subject in 1620. A relation 
of his success has been left us from the pen of Sir 
Kenelm Digby. Bonet's work was accompanied by 
a manual alphabet, from which the one now used on 
the Continents of Europe and America was derived. 
In England, John Buhver published his " Philoco- 
phus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's Friend," in the 
year 1648. In 1653 Dr. Wallis appeared as an au- 
thor on the same subject ; he was succeeded by Dr. 
Holder, George Sibscota, and George Dalgarno. 
The latter published his " Didascalocophus, or Deaf 
aud Dumb Man's Tutor," in 1680. During the 

THE ABBE 1)B l'bpEE. 403 

same period the attention of several individuals in 
various parts of Europe was directed to a similar ob- 
ject; the most distinguished of whom was John 
Conrad Amman, a Swiss physician, who resided at 

It is not our province here to describe the various 
methods pointed out by these scientific philanthro- 
pists ; we have mentioned their labours merely with 
the view of showing that the art was not altogether 
unknown to the learned of various countries previous 
to the time of the Abbe de I'Epee. France was the 
last to commence this labour of science and charity. 
It has, however, good cause to be proud of its suc- 
cessful efforts in the great work. It has produced a 
De I'Epee, a Sicard, a Bt5bian, and a De Gerando, all 
energetic labourers in the same vineyard. Its disin- 
terested beneficence in our own days has done enough 
to perpetuate its name above all nations, in the hearts 
of those for whom its exertions have been called forth. 

The following incident directed M. de I'Epee's at- 
tention to the great work which became the leading 
object of his life. It is said by M. Bebian that up to 
this period he possessed no knowledge of the attempts 
previously made for the instruction of the deaf, and 
we shall presently give the Abbe's own account of 
the first works on the art which came under his 
notice. Business took him one day to a house where 
he found only two young women ; they were occupied 
in needlework, which seemed to engross all their at- 
tention. He addressed himself to them ; they did 
not answer, their eyes continued fixed upon their 
work. He questioned them again, and still obtained 
no answer. At this he was much surprised, being 
ignorant that the two sisters were deaf and dumb. 

The mother arrived soon after, and explained to 
him with tears the nature of their infirmity, and of 
her sorrow. An ecclesiastic, named Vanin, had 

404 THE ABBK DE l'ePEE. 

commenced the education of these young persons by 
means of pictures. Death having taken away from 
them this charitable man, they remained without 
further assistance, no person being willing to con- 
tinue a task so difficult, and apparently so uncertain 
in its results. " Believing," says M. del'Epee, "that 
these two children would live and die in ignorance of 
their religion, if I did not attempt some means of in- 
structing them, I was touched with compassion, and 
told the mother that she might send them daily to 
my house, and that I would do whatever I might 
find possible for them." 

The pictures of Father Vanin he found to be a 
feeble and unsatisfactory resource ; the apparent 
successes obtained by means of articulation had not 
solidity enough to seduce his philosophical mind. 
But he had not forgotten that, at the age of sixteen, 
in a conversation with his tutor, who was an excel- 
lent metaphysician, the latter had proved to him 
this incontestable principle : — that there is no more 
natural connexion between metaphysical ideas, and 
the aiticulated sounds which strike the ear, than be- 
tween these same ideas, and the written characters 
which strike the eye. He also recollected that his 
tutor drew this immediate conclusion from his pre- 
mises, — that it was as possible to instruct the deaf 
and dumb by wTiting, always accompanied by visible 
signs, as to teach other men by words delivered 
orally, along with gestures indicative of their signifi- 
cation. " How little did I then think," says M. de 
I'Epee, " that Providence was thus laying the found- 
ation of the work for which I was destined !" From 
that pei-iod he devoted himself exclusively to the 
work which he had commenced, and while some 
people smiled at his endeavours, he found in his oc- 
cupation his chief happiness. A respectable minister, 
after being present at one of his lessons, said to him, 

■ THE abb£ de l'epee. 405 

" I formerly pitied you, I now pity you no longer ; 
you are restoring to society and to religion beings 
who have been strangers to both." The sanguine I'Epee led him into 
some errors, particularly that very pardonable one 
of supposing his pupils to understand more than they 
really did understand. His report of their rapid ad-, 
vancement, as compared with the actual practice of 
modern times, shows this ; but with a less active 
mind, and with less zeal, he would never have suc- 
ceeded in awakening the public feeling to the impor- 
tant object of his life, and he would never have over- 
come the opposition of other teachers, and of minds 
less generous than his own. 

" One day," says I'Epee, "a stranger came 
to our public lesson, and offering me a Spanish 
book, he said that it would be a real service to the 
owner if I would purchase it. I answered that as I 
did not understand the language it would be totally 
useless to me : but opening it casually, what should 
I see but the manual alphabet of the Spaniards 
neatly executed in copper-plate ! I wanted no 
further inducement ; I paid the messenger his de- 
mand, and kept the book. I then became impatient 
for the conclusion of the lesson ; and what was my 
surprise when I found this title. Arte para ensenar 
a hablar los Mudos ! I had little difficulty to 
guess that this signified The Art of teaching the 
Dumb to speak, and I immediately resolved to 
acquire the Spanish language for the benefit of my 

Soon after meeting with this work of Bonet, he 
heard of Amman's Dissertatio de loquela Surdorum 
et Mutorum, in the library of a friend. Conducted 
by the light of these two excellent guides, De I'Epee 
continued his task with a success which quite satis- 
fied himself. 

2 a3 


It will be well, in the present Memoir, to touch 
but lightly upon the disputes which agitated the 
learned in France and Germany when the partial 
success of the Abbe de I'Epee became generally 
known. We cannot but give praise to the Abbe 
for the openness and candour with which he made 
known his experience and his views; and if his 
arguments to prove the superior excellence of his 
own method appear unsatisfactory and inconclusive 
to the enlarged experience of the present day, such 
arguments ought to be viewed as those of a zealous- 
minded teacher of an art yet in the first stages of 
its infancy. Had his antagonist M. Heinich, the 
Leipsic teacher, been as communicative respecting 
his plans as his liberal opponent, good might have 
resulted from this learned warfare ; as it was, to 
the satisfaction of almost everybody, the Abbe de 
I'Epee was left master of the field, and received 
compliments from all quarters, among which should 
be especially noted the " Decision" of the Academy 
of Zurich in his favour. 

The chief fault in the system of the Abbe de 
I'Epee seems to have consisted in its being the 
philosophy of the master, not sufficiently lowered to 
the comprehension of the pupil ; a common error 
for master-minds to fall into. The pupil might 
mechanically translate methodical signs into lan- 
guage, without knowing the ideas intended to be 
conveyed by such signs and by such language. 
Has not this always been a fault among the in- 
structors of youth ? Our school books of the present 
day contain sufficient evidence of this failing. 
Before the time of Pestalozzi it was scarcely dreamed 
of, <^hat the teacher should exchange places with the 
learner ; that he should suffer himself to be led by 
his pupil to a certain point, in order that he might 
commence his superstructure on the foundation 


already formed ; that he should ascertain the man- 
ner in which infantine impressions are received, and 
become acquainted with the bent and genius of his 
pupil, to enable him to determine upon the best 
mode of rendering his lessons beneficial, so as to 
correct that which is erroneous, and develop that 
which is hidden. This is the " true method of in- 
structing the deaf and dumb," and not less the 
true method of instructing children gifted with all 
their faculties. If the good Abbe committed only 
that error, which was common in his generation, 
and which is still too common in ours ; if he taught 
words instead of ideas — what did he less than 
others? This is the great fault in all our semi- 
naries of learning. 

The number of children under the care of th^ 
Abbe de I'Epee was very considerable. We read 
in one part of his writings of six hundred and 
eight pupils having been at various times under 
instruction, and this was written several years 
before he closed his career of usefulness. Again 
we read of upwards of sixty pupils being under his 
care at one time. All this was performed for the 
poor^ unassisted by any pecuniary aid except his 
own patrimony. It is stated that the income which 
the Abbe de I'Epee inherited from his father 
amounted to about 400/. sterling; of this sum he 
allowed about 100/. per annum for his own expenses, 
and he considered the remainder as the inheritance 
of his adopted children, — the indigent deaf and 
dumb, — to whose use it was faithfully applied. 
" The rich,'' says he, " only come to my house by 
tolerance ] it is not to them that I devote myself, 
it is to the poor; but for these I should never have 
undertaken the education of the deaf and dumb. ' 
There was no kind of privation which he did not 
impose on himself for the sake of his pupils. In 

408 THE ABBE DE l'ePEE. 

order to supply their wants he limited his own. So 
strictly did he adhere to the appropriation which 
he had made of his income, that in the rigorous 
winter of 1788, when suffering under the infirmities 
of age, he denied^ himself fuel, in order not to in- 
trench upon the moderate sum to which he confined 
his annual expenditure. All the remonstrances of 
his friends on this point were fruitless. His house- 
keeper having observ'ed his rigid restriction, and 
doubtless imputing it to its real motive, led into his 
apartment his forty pupils, who conjured him to 
preserve himself for their sakes. He yielded, not 
without difficulty, to their persuasions, but after- 
wards reproaclied himself for this concession. Having 
exceeded his ordinary expenditure by about 300 
livres (about 12/.), he would afterwards exclaim in 
the midst of his pupils, " My poor children, I have 
wronged you of a hundred crowns !" 

With that liberality which ever characterises the 
true friend of mankind, the good Abbe formed 
preceptors for many institutions. Gennany, Swit- 
zerland, Italy, Spain, Holland, and many other 
countries participated in the benefits which were 
being conferred on the deaf-mutes of Paris. 

It is worthy of remark that two of the most 
eminent European sovereigns of that day encouraged 
the labours of the Abbe de I'Epee — Catherine II., 
Empress of Russia, and Joseph II., Emperor of 
Germany. In 17S0 the ambassador of Catherine 
waited upon the Abbe to congratulate him in her 
name, and to offer him rich presents from that 
Empress, who knew well how to appreciate all that 
was truly great. " My lord," said the Abbe, " I 
never receive gold; tell her majesty, that if my 
labours have appeared to her to claim her esteem, 
all that I ask is that she will send me a deaf and 
dumb person, or a master to be instructed in this 

THE ABBE DE l'ePEE. 409 

art of teaching." The Emperor Joseph bestowed 
a still more flattering notice upon these labours. 
After witnessing the success of the Abbe de I'Epee, 
he resolved to found in his own dominions an in- 
stitution so necessaiy to the wants of his subjects. 
During two hours and a half, the qualifications 
attainable by the deaf and dumb, when their powers 
have been properly developed, were attentively 
regarded by the Emperor, who had in his thoughts 
a young lady of high birth at Vienna in this 
deplorable state, whose parents wished to give her a 
Christian education. On being consulted as to the 
measures to be taken for this end, the Abbe offered 
either to educate the young lady gratuitously, if she 
were brought to Paris ; or to instruct any intelligent 
person, who might be sent to him, in the method 
to be pursued. The Emperor accepted the latter 
proposal, as it opened the prospect of permanent 
relief for others of his subjects who might be in the 
same affecting circumstances. On his return to 
Vienna, he addressed a highly flattering letter to 
M. de l'Ept?e by the Abbe Storch, the person whom 
he selected for introducing the education of deaf- 
mutes into his dominions. The Abbe Storch is 
spoken of by the Abbe de I'Epee as " filled with the 
purest sacerdotal spirit, and amply endowed with 
every talent his mission could require." A royal 
institution for deaf-mutes was founded at Vienna, 
which was the first national establishment ever 
erected for the deaf and dumb. 

A subject of painful and anxious interest occupied 
the thoughts of the Abbe de I'Epee during his 
declining years. He had solicited from government 
an endowment to perpetuate his institution after his 
own death, but he obtained only promises. How- 
ever, he knew that his art would exist in Vienna if 
it should be forgotten at Paris, and this gave Jiiiji 



some consolation. When the Emperor Joseph 
visited his institution he expressed his astonishment, 
that a man so deserving had not obtained at least 
an abbey, whose revenues he might apply to the 
wants of the deaf and dumb. He offered to ask one 
for him, or eyen to give him one in his own 
dominions. " I am already old," said M. de I'Epee : 
" if your majesty \vishes well to the deaf and dumb, 
it is not on my head, already bending to the tomb, 
that the benefit must fall, it is on the work itself." 

M. de I'Epee found, however, some feeling hearts 
in France. Many masters, taught by him, carried 
the fruits of his instructions into different cities in 
that kingdom, as well as into foreign countries. At 
Bordeaux an establishment had been formed by the 
archbishop, M. de Cice, which owed its celebrity to 
its instructor, the Abbe Sicard, a young priest who 
had been sent to learn the theory and the practice 
of the method employed by the illustrious teacher at 
Paris. It is said by De Gerando, that " the pupil 
soon became acquainted with his master's views, and 
seized them with enthusiasm." He was eminently 
calculated to see their value. Gifted with a vivid 
and fertile imagination, he had a singular ability 
in clothing abstract notions in sensible forms ; he 
had a particular talent for that pantomime which 
is the proper language of the deaf-mute, and which 
the Abbt^ de I'Epee had proposed to carry to a high 
degree of development in his system of methodic 
signs : endowed with an enterprising and flexible 
mind, he would search for and discover new and 
various modes of expressing and explaining ideas 
and precepts. He appeared to possess a kind of 
natural talent for communicating with deaf-mutes. 

This was the man who was destined to succeed 
M. de I'Epee. His talents and his virtues proved 
him to be worthy of receiving that inheritance pf 


glory and of beneficence. His successes filled his 
master with joj'', who, in the overflowing of his 
hopes, said to him one day, " Mon ami, j'ai trouve 
le verre, c'est k vous d'en faire les lunettes." A 
testimony as honourable to the modesty of the one, 
as to the talent of the other. Sicard was in full 
possession of his master's ideas ; amply has he deve- 
loped and extended them by his own clear and 
analytical mind. 

If the Abbt^ de I'Epee was not the first inventor 
of a system for teaching the deaf and dumb, he was 
the first who benefited society by any extensive ap- 
plication of the discovery. We hesitate not to assert 
that he was an inventor of great merit, particularly 
as regards those details which made the discovery 
of service to those for whose instruction it was 
designed. Previous to his time, it had been dis- 
cussed rather as a possible, than as an extensively 
practicable, art ; and the few persons who had been 
previously instructed must be viewed more as the 
results of experiments to test philosophical principles, 
than as pupils regularly and systematically taught. 

The Abbt5 de I'EptJe died December 23, 1789. 
The AbbtJ Fauchet, preacher to the king, pronounced 
his funeral oration ; but next to his mute eulogists 
in all countries, M. de Bebian and M. Bouilly 
have been the means of making known his fame 
and his merits to the world. From their writings 
much of the present Memoir is derived. M. de 
Seine, a deaf-mute pupil of the Abbe de I'Epe'e 
wrote the following distich, to be placed under the 
bust of his benevolent teacher : — 

" II revele a la fois secrets merveilleux, 
De pailer par les maiosi d'eutendre par les yeux." 


Benjamin Franklin was born at Boston in New 
England, January G, 1706. His father was a non- 
conformist, who had emigrated in 1682, and followed 
the trade of a tallow-chandler. Benjamin was one 
of the youngest of fourteen children, and, being in- 
tended for the ministrj'', was sent for a year to the 
Boston Grammar School; after which, poverty 
compelled his father to remove him, at ten years old, 
to assist in his business. The boy disliked this oc- 
cupation so much, that he was bound apprentice to 
an elder brother, who was just established at Boston 
as a printer. Though but twelve years of age, he 
soon learnt all his brother could teach him ; but the 
harsh treatment he met with, which he says first in- 
spired him with a hatred for tyranny, made him re- 
solve to emancipate himself on the first opportunity. 
All his leisure time was spent in reading; and 
having exhausted his small stock of books, lie rc' 


sorted to a singular expedient to supply himself with 
more. Having been attracted by a treatise on the 
advantages of a vegetable diet, he determined to 
adopt it, and offered to provide for himself, on condi- 
tion of receiving half the weekly sum expended on 
his board. His brother willingly consented ; and 
by living entirely on vegetables he contrived to save 
half his pittance to gratify his voracious appetite for 
reading. He continued the practice for several 
years, and attributes to it his habitual temperance 
and indifference to the delicacies of the table. 

Some time before this the elder Franklin had set 
up a newspaper, the second ever published in Ame- 
rica, which eventually gave Benjamin a pretext for 
breaking through the trammels of his apprenticeship. 
In consequence of some remarks which gave offence 
to the provincial authorities, the former was impri- 
soned under a warrant from the Speaker of the As- 
sembly ; and his discharge was accompanied with an 
order, that " James Franklin should no longer print 
the New England Courant " In this dilemma the 
brothers agreed that it should be printed for the 
future in Benjamin's name; and to avoid the cen- 
sure that might fall on the elder as printing it by his 
apprentice, the old indenture was cancelled, and a 
new one signed which was to be kept secret ; but 
fresh disputes arising, Benjamin took advantage of 
the transaction to assert his freedom, presuming that 
his brother would not dare to produce the secret ar- 
ticles. Expostulation was vain; but the brother 
took care to spread such reports as prevented him 
from getting employment at Boston. He determined 
therefore to go elsewhere ; and, having sold his books 
to raise a little money, he set off without the know- 
ledge of his friends, and wandered by way of New 
York to Philadelphia, where he found himself at 
seventeen with a single dollar in his pocket, friend- 


less and unknown. He succeeded, however, at last 
in procuring employment with a printer of the name 
of Keimer, with whom he remained seven months. 
By some accident he was thrown in the way of the 
Governor, Sir William Keith, who promised to be of 
service to him in his business, if he could persuade 
his father to establish him in Philadelphia. His 
father, however, refused to advance any money, think- 
ing him too young to be established in a concern of 
his own. He therefore once more engaged himself 
with Keimer, and remained with him a year and a 

The favour of the Governor, who promised him 
introductions and a letter of credit, led Franklin to 
undertake a voyage to England, with a view of im- 
proving himself in his trade, and procuring a set of 
types. But he was severely disappointed, when, at 
the end of the voyage, upon applying to the Captain 
who carried the Governor's dispatches, he learnt 
that there were no letters for him, and that General 
Keith was one of that large class of persons who are 
more ready to excite expectations than to fulfil them. 
He soon however got employment, and, with frugal- 
ity, contrived to maintain both himself and his friend 
Ralph, who had accompanied him to England on 
a literary speculation, which, after many failures in 
verse and prose, procured him at last a nook in the 
Dunciad, and a pension from the Prince of Wales, 
whose cause he had espoused in print against 
George II. 

During his voyage he attracted the notice of a 
merchant named Denham, who, again meeting him 
in London, became fond of him, and engaged his 
services as a clerk. After remaining a year and a 
half in London, he returned with Mr. Denham to 
Philadelphia. During this voyage he drew up a 
scheme for self-examination, and several prudent 


rules for the guidance of his future conduct, to 
which he steadily adhered through life. Indeed 
the remarkable success of most of his undertakings 
may be traced in a great measure to this faculty of 
profiting early by the lessons of experience, and 
abiding rigorously by a resolution once made. 

He had scarcely returned half a year when his 
patron died, leaving him again on the world at the 
age of twenty-one. But he had now acquired so 
much skill in his business, that he was gladly re- 
ceived at advanced wages into Keimer's printing- 

About this time he set on foot a club, called 
" The Junto," consisting of twelve persons of his 
own age, most of whom proved eminent men in 
after-life. This association had much influence on 
his fortunes, particularly when, having quarrelled 
with Keimer, he was induced to establish himself in 
partnership with a fellow-journeyman named Mere- 
dith, and needed both interest and money. By 1729 
he had saved enough to buy out his partner, and 
make himself sole proprietor of the printing-house. 
In the following year he married a young woman 
named Reade, to whom he had been attached before 
lie went to England. 

In 1732 he began to publish ' Poor Richard's 
Almanack,' It was interspersed with many pru- 
dential maxims, which were printed with additions, 
in a collected form, in 1757, and have been trans- 
lated into many languages. The annual sale of 
this Almanack reached 10,000 copies, and, as it 
was continued for twenty-five years, was very profit- 
able to the author. 

In 1736 he was appointed Clerk to the Assembly 
of Pennsylvania, and obtained their printing. The 
next year he was made Deputy Postmaster, and 
introduced so many judicious reforms into his de- 


partment, that it began to bring in a considerable 
revenue, though up to that time it had before barely 
paid its own expenses. He also carried into effect 
many improvements at Philadelphia, as his credit 
with his fellow-townsmen increased ; invariably 
taking care to introduce them as " the idea of a 
few friends," or " the plan of some public spirited 
persons," thus avoiding the odium which attaches 
to the corrector of abuses, and eventually securing 
the credit of having made useful suggestions. In 
these schemes he was well seconded by the "Junto." 
Some of thera were — Institutions for watching, 
paving, and lighting the city ; the Union Fire 
Company, still, we believe, in useful operation ; a 
Philosophical Society; an Academy for Education, 
now grown up into the University of Pennsylvania ; 
and the City Hospital. But many of these improve- 
ments were brought forward at a later period ; for 
until 174S, when he took a partner, his time was 
almost exclusively occupied in his printing-office. 

Being now, comparatively, a man of leisure, he 
devoted more attention to philosophical pursuits and 
to public business, for which his fellow-citizens began 
to find his habits and talents exceedingly well suited. 
He became, in succession, magistrate, alderman, 
and member of the Assembly ; and nothing of im- 
portance was transacted without his assistance or 

The first public mission in which he was engaged, 
was to a tribe of Indians in 1750, which was suc- 
cessful. In 1753 he was appointed Postmaster- 
General, with a salary of 300/. a-year. 

The next year he produced a plan for the union 
of the American Provinces, for mutual defence 
against an apprehended invasion by the French 
from the Canada frontier. This seems to have been 
the first time that such an idea was broached ; and. 


as he was fond of saying, like all good motions it 
was kept alive, though not carried into effect at the 

Pennsylvania was then ruled by an Assembly 
elected annually, and a Governor appointed by the 
descendants of William Penn, who resided in Eng- 
land, and were the feudal lords of the soil. This 
anomalous kind of government naturally led to 
misunderstandings, which were among the causes 
that mainly contributed to alienate the affections 
of the provinces from the mother country. The 
Proprietaries, as they were called, laid claim to 
immunity from taxation, upon grounds which the 
Assembly refused to admit ; and the Governor and 
his officers taking part with the Proprietaries, to 
whom they were indebted for their appointments, a 
controversy grew up, which was never entirely dis- 
posed of while the connexion with Great Britain 
subsisted. In this dispute Franklin took an active 
share, and sided with the opposition, rejecting fre- 
quent overtures from the government ; with which, 
however, he continued to keep on good terms, never 
losing sight of the duty of a citizen, in supporting 
the authority of the laws, and defending the state 
against its foreign and domestic enemies by his 
writings and example. In following this course on 
various occasions, especially that of the French in- 
vasion from Canada, he not only warmly exerted 
himself in person, but advanced a good deal of 
money, which, to the disgrace of the British 
Government, was never wholly repaid. 

In 1757 he was appointed to manage the contro- 
versy with the Proprietaries in England. Thither 
he accordingly repaired after some vexatious delays, 
and proceeded in the object of his mission with his 
accustomed energy ; and though he met with many 
obstacles, his efforts were at length successful, and 


the Penns gave up their claim to be exempt from 
contributing to the burdens of the state. But they 
still held the power of appointing the Governor, 
which the Province wished to be transferred to the 
Crown, and the dispute was afterwards renewed. 
The conduct of Franklin in this affair gained him 
so much credit in America, that he received the 
additional appointments of Agent for Maryland, 
Massachusetts, and Georgia, each of which pro- 
vinces had grievances of its own requiring redress. 

During this absence in England, Franklin was 
presented by the Universities of St. Andrew's and 
Oxford with the degree of D.C.L., and took his 
place as Fellow of the Royal Society, which honour, 
with many similar distinctions, had been conferred 
upon him some years before for his discoveries in 
electricity. The chief of these were, the identity of 
electricity with lightning, and the mode of protect- 
ing buildings by pointed metallic conductors. The 
simplification which he effected in the theory of 
electricity, by showing how all the phenomena are 
explicable by the hypothesis of a single electric 
fluid, forms a remarkable example of philosophical 
generalization, and a lasting monument of its author's 
genius*. He was also consulted on American aflPairs 
by Lord Chatham, who, by his advice, as it is be- 
lieved, withdrew a part of the British force then 
acting with the King of Prussia, and directed it 
with so much secrecy and success against Canada, 
that the French had no intelligence of the danger 
of the province till they heard of its irretrievable 

In the summer of 1762 he returned to Philadel- 
phia, where he received public thanks, and a grant 
of 5000/. for his services. His popularity was such, 

• See the. Library of Useful Knowledge— Treatise on Electricity 
S«c.48, &c. ' • 


that he had been re-elected annually to the Assem- 
bly, and he immediately resumed the active part 
which he had formerly taken in its proceedings. 

Among other projects for reform, that relating to 
the appointment of Governor, which the Proprie- 
taries seem to have exercised with very little regard 
to the public interest, gave rise to much stormy 
discussion during the next two years. Franklin's 
share in it procured him many enemies, who suc- 
ceeded in preventing his election in 1764. Yet, a 
strong petition to the Crown on the subject having 
been disregarded, he was a second time appointed 
agent for enforcing the views of the Assembly upon 
the authorities in England. When there, he by no 
means limited his exertions to this narrow point : 
minor dissensions were now merging in the final 
struggle for national independence, to which the 
passing of the Grenville Stamp Act in 1763 gave 
the immediate impulse. Franklin reprobated this 
tax as arbitrary and illegal, when it was first re- 
ported to the Assembly; and his writings in the 
papers against it with his examination in Parlia- 
ment, are thought to have contributed much to its 
repeal under the Rockingham administration, in 

In this and the three next years he paid several 
visits to the Continent, where he was received with 
much distinction. He began already to record his 
observations upon the part the different powers 
would be likely to take in case of a rupture between 
England and her colonies : an event which a 
thorough knowledge of the temper of both led him, 
even thus early, to contemplate as by no means 
improbable. The closure of the port of Boston in 
1773, and the quartering of troops in the town, 
filled up the measure of discontent. Franklin was 
then agent for three provinces besides Prainsylvaniai 


and their remonstrances, which he lost no oppor- 
tunity of forcing on the attention of the English 
public as well as the Government, found in him a 
most efficient supporter. At length, finding all his 
efforts to bring about a reconciliation entirely fruit- 
less, and having met with much misconstruction and 
personal indignity at the hands of successive admi- 
nistrations, he resigned his agencies and set sail for 
Philadelphia, where he arrived in the spring of 
1775, after an absence of eleven years. 

In the preceding autumn a Congress of delegates 
from the Assemblies of all the provinces, the idea of 
which seems to have originated with Franklin, had 
met at Philadelphia ; and their first act was to sign 
a Declaration of Rights, which had been transmitted 
to Franklin and the other agents for presentation. 
The day after his return he was himself elected to 
serve in this Congress for Pennsylvania, and was 
intrusted with the management of several important 
negotiations. In the mean time collisions had taken 
place between the troops at Boston and the inha- 
bitants, which led to the actions of Lexington and 
Bunker's Hill. These events quickened the delibe- 
rations of the Congress ; and after one more fruit- 
less petition for redress, the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence was published, July 4, 1776, and warlike 
preparations were actively commenced. The English 
Ministry now sent out Lord Howe, with full powers 
to concede every thing but absolute independence ; 
but as the Commissioners appointed to confer with 
him, of whom Franklin was one, were instructed to 
treat upon no other terms, the negotiation abruptly 

After his return from a short but unsuccessful 
mission to Canada, Dr. Franklin had been appointed 
President of the Convention for settling the con- 
stitution of Pennsylvania ; but he had not long held 


the office before his services were again put in re- 
quisition^ by the Congress, as head of the Com- 
mission to the Court of France, with powers to 
negotiate loans, purchase stoi'es, and grant letters of 
marque. He consented, with all the alacrity of 
youth, to undertake this charge, though in his 71st 
year ; and, crossing the Atlantic for the fourth time, 
arrived in France with his colleagues before the end 
of 1776, and took up his residence at Passy, a 
village near Paris. The nation at large received 
the Commission with open arms, and rendered them 
much assistance, in which the Government secretly 
participated. But it was not till the surrender of 
Burgoyne's army, in October 1777, that the re- 
luctance of the Court to hazard a war with England 
was overcome. The treaty of alliance, and recogni- 
tion of the United States, was signed in February 
3778, and war immediately was declared against 

The principal object of the Commission being 
thus gained, Franklin still continued in France with 
the character of plenipotentiary during the seven 
remaining years of the war, till 17S3, when England 
consented to recognise the independence of her late 
colonies. The definitive treaty for that purpose wa3 
signed by himself, and on the pai't of England by 
David Hartley, September 3, 1783. 

He had of late years been afflicted with those 
painful disorders the gout and stone, and at last 
received permission to return, of Avhich he availed 
himself the following spring, having just completed 
his 79th year. He was, as may be supposed, most 
enthusiastically received at Philadelphia, after an 
absence of eight years and a half; but the Congress, 
with an ingratitude which has often been justly laid 
to the charge of republics, made him no acknow- 

VOL. HI. 2 b 


ledgment or compensation for his long and arduous 
services ; and he felt the neglect rather keenly. 

In a very short time we find him again very 
busily engaged in public employments; first as a 
member of the Supreme Executive Council, and of 
the Commission for the settlement of the National 
Confederacy, and soon afterwards as President of 
the state of Pennsylvania, which he retained for the 
full legal period of three years. He was also a 
leading member in several societies for public and 
charitable purposes. One of the latter was a Society 
for the Abolition of Slavery, and his last public act 
was a memorial to Congress on this subject. He 
then wholly retired from public employments, after 
a life spent in labours through which nothing could 
have supported him but a consciousness of the high 
responsibilities of a mind gifted like his own, and 
the magnitude of the cause for which his powerful 
advocacy was so long engaged. He died about two 
years after his retirement, at the age of eighty-four, 
in the full enjoyment of all his faculties. Few men 
CYer possessed such opportunities or talents for con- 
tributing to the welfare of mankind ; fewer still 
have used them to better purpose : and it is pleasant 
to know, on his own authority, that such extensive 
services were rendered without any sacrifice of his own 
happiness. In his later correspondence he frequently 
alludes with complacency to a favourite sentiment 
which he has also introduced into his Memoirs ; — 
" That he would willingly live over again the same 
course of life, even though not allowed the privilege 
of an author, to correct in a second edition the 
faults of the first." 

His remarkable success in life and in the dis- 
charge of his public fimctions is not to be ascribed 
to genius, unless the term be extended to that per- 


fection of common sense and intimate knowledge of 
mankind which almost entitled his sagacity to the 
name of prescience, and made ' Franklin's fore- 
bodings' proverbially ominous among those who 
knew him. His pre-eminence appears to have re- 
sulted from the habitual cultivation of a mind ori- 
ginally shrewd and observant, and gifted with sin- 
gular powers of energy and self-control. There was 
a business-like alacrity about him, with a discretion 
and integrity which conciliated the respect even of 
his warmest political foes; a manly straight-for- 
wardness before which no pretension could stand 
unrebuked; and a cool tenacity of temper and 
purpose which never forsook him under the most 
discouraging circumstances, and was no doubt ex- 
ceedingly provoking to his opponents. Indeed his 
sturdiness, however useful to his country in time of 
need, was perhaps carried rather to excess ; his 
enemies called it obstinacy, and accused him of 
being morose and sullen. No better refutation of 
such a charge can be wished for than the testimony 
borne to his disposition by Priestley (Monthly 
Magazine 1782), a man whom Franklin was justly 
proud to call his friend. In private life he was 
most estimable ; two of his most favourite maxims 
were, never to exalt himself by lowering others, and 
in society to enjoy and contribute to all innocent 
amusements without reserve. His friendships were 
consequently lasting, and chosen at will from among 
the most amiable as well as the most distinguished 
of both sexes, wherever his residence happened to 
be fixed. 

His chief claims to philosophical distinction are 
his experiments and discoveries in electricity; but 
he has left essays upon various other matters of 
interest and practical utility ; an end of which he 
never lost sight. Among these are remarks on 



ship-building and light-houses ; on the temperature 
of the sea at different latitudes and depths, and the 
phenomena of what is called the Gulf-stream of the 
Atlantic ; on the effect of oil poured upon rough 
water, and other subjects connected with practical 
navigation ; and on the proper construction of lamps, 
chimneys, and stoves. His suggestions on these 
subjects are very valuable. His other writings are 
numerous; they relate chiefly to politics, or the 
inculcation of the rules of prudence and morality. 
Many of them are light and even playful ; they are 
all instructive, and written in an excellent and 
simple style ; but they are not entirely free from 
the imputation of trifling upon serious subjects. 
The most valuable of them is probably his auto- 
biography, which is unfortunately but a fragment. 

As a speaker he was neither copious nor eloquent; 
there was even a degree of hesitation and embar- 
rassment in his delivery. Yet as he seldom rose 
without having something important to say, and 
always spoke to the purpose, he commanded the at- 
tention of his hearers, and generally succeeded in 
his object. 

His religious principles, when disengaged from 
the scepticism of his youth, appears to have been 
sincere, and unusually free from sectarian animositv. 

Upon the whole, his long and useful life forms 
an instructive example of the force which arises 
from the harmonious combination of strong faculties 
and feelings when so controlled by sense and prin- 
ciple that no one is suffered to predominate to the 
disparagement of the rest. 

An excellent Life, in which his autobiography is 
included, with a collection of many of his miscella- 
neous writings, and much of his correspondence, has 
been published in six octavo volumes, by his grand- 
son Temple Franklin, who accompanied him during 



his mission to France, and possessed the amplest 
means of verifying his statements by reference to the 
original papers. 



Adam Smith was bom June 5, 1723, at Kirkaldy, 
in the county of Fife, where his father held the 
place of comptroller of the customs. Being a post- 
humous and only child, he became the sole object of 
his widowed mother's tenderness and solicitude ; and 
this was increased by the delicacy of his consti- 
tution. Upon her devolved the sole charge of his 
education ; and the value of her care may be esti- 
mated from the uninterrupted harmony and deep 
mutual affection which united them, unchilled, to 
the end of life. He was remarkable for his love of 
reading and the excellence of his memory, even at 
the early age when she first placed him at the 
grammar-school of Kirkaldy, where he won the 
affection of his companions by his amiable dispo- 
sition, though the weakness of his frame hindered 
him from joining in their sports. 

At the age of fourteen he was sent to the Uni- 

SMITH. 427 

verslty of Glasgow, from which, at the end of three 
years, he was removed to Baliol College, Oxford, in 
order to qualify himself for taking orders in the 
English Church. Mathematics and natural philo- 
sophy seem to have been his favourite pursuits at 
Glasgow ; but at Oxford he devoted all his leisure 
hours to belles-lettres, and the moral and political 
sciences. Among these political economy cannot 
be reckoned ; for at that period it was unknown even 
in name : still, in such studies, and by the sedulous 
improvement of his understanding, he was laying 
the^ foundations of his immortal work. He re- 
mained seven years at Oxford, without conceiving, 
as may be inferred from some passages in the 
'Wealth of Nations,' any high respect for the 
system of education then pursued in the Univer- 
sity j and, having given up all thoughts of taking 
orders, he returned to his mother's house at Kirk- 
aldy, and devoted himself entirely to literature and 
science. In 1748 he removed to Edinburgh, where, 
under Lord Karnes's patronage, he delivered a course 
of lectures on rhetoric and belles-lettres. These 
were never published ; and, with other papers, were 
destroyed by Smith a short time before his death. 
Dr. Blair, in the well-known course which he deli- 
livered ten years afterwards on the same subject, 
acknowledges how greatly he was indebted to his 
predecessor, and how largely he had borrowed from 

In 1751 Mr. Smith was elected Professor of 
Logic in the University of Glasgow, and in the 
following year he was transferred to the chair of 
Moral Philosophy, which he filled during thirteen 
years. The following account of his lectures is 
given by Professor Millar. " His course of lectures 
on this subject was divided into four parts. The 
first contained natural theology, in which he con- 



sidered the proofs of the being and attributes of 
God, and those principles of the human mind upon 
which religion is founded. The second compre- 
hended ethics, strictly so called, and consisted chiefly 
of the doctrines which he afterwards published in 
his ' Theory of Moral Sentiments.' In the third 
part he treated more at length of that branch of 
morality which relates to justice, and which, being 
susceptible of precise and accurate rules, is for that 
reason capable of a full and particular explanation. 
... In the last part of his lectures he examined 
those political regulations which are founded, not 
on the principle of justice, but on that of expediency, 
and which are calculated to increase the riches, the 
power, and the prosperity of a state. Under this 
view, he considered the political institutions relating 
to commerce, to finances, to ecclesiastical and mili- 
tary establishments. What he delivered on these 
subjects contained the substance of the work he 
afterwards published under the title of ' An Inquiry 
into tlie Nature and Causes of the Wealth of 
Nations.' " 

" There was no situation in which the abilities of 
Dr. Smith appeared to greater advantage than as a 
professor. In delivering his lectures, he trusted 
almost entirely to extemporary elocution. His man- 
ner, though not graceful, was plain and unaffected ; 
and as he seemed to be always interested in the 
subject, he never failed to interest his hearers. 
£ach discourse consisted of several distinct propo- 
sitions, which he successively endeavoured to prove 
and to illustrate. These propositions, when an- 
nounced in general terms, had, from their extent, 
not unfrequently something of the air of a paradox. 
In his attempts to explain them, he often appeared 
at first not to be sufficiently possessed of the subject, 
and spoke with some hesitation. As he advanced, 

BMITH. 429 

however, the matter seemed to crowd upon him, his 
manner became warm and animated, and his ex- 
pression easy and fluent. In points susceptible of 
controversy, you could easily discern that he secretly 
conceived an opposition to his opinions, and that he 
was led upon this account to support them with 
greater energy and vehemence. By the fulness and 
variety of his illustrations, the subject gradually 
swelled in his hands, and acquired a dimension 
which, without a tedious repetition of tha same 
views, was calculated to seize the attention of his 
audience, and to afford them pleasure as well as 
instruction in following the same object through all 
the diversity of shades and aspects in which it was 
presented, and afterwards in tracing it backwards 
to that original proposition or general truth from 
which this beautiful train of speculation had pro- 

" His reputation as a professor was accordingly 
raised very high, and a multitude of students from 
a great distance resorted to the University merely 
upon his account. Those branches of science which 
he taught became fashionable at this place, and his 
opinions were the chief topics of discussion in clubs 
and literary societies. Even the small peculiarities 
in his pronunciation or manner of speaking became 
frequently the obj.ects of imitation." 

Smith published his ' Theory of Moral Senti- 
ments' in 1759, The fundamental principle of this 
work, we use the summary of Mr. Macculloch, is 
that ^^ sympathy forms the real foundation of morals ; 
that we do not immediately approve or disapprove 
of any given action, when we have become acquainted 
with the intention of the agent and the consequences 
of what he has done, but that we previously enter, 
by means of that sympathetic affection which is 
natural to us, into the feelings of the agent, and 

430 SMITH. 

those to whom the action relates ; that having con- 
sidered all the motives and passions by which the 
agent was actuated, we pronounce, with respect to 
the propriety or impropriety of the action, according 
as we sympathise or not with him ; while we pro- 
nounce, with respect to the merit or demerit of the 
action, according as we sympathise with the grati- 
tude or resentment of those who were its objects ; 
and that we necessarily judge of our own conduct 
by comparing it with such maxims and rules as we 
have deduced from observations previously made on 
the conduct of others." This theory, ingenious as 
it is, is generally abandoned as untenable. Dr. 
Brown has argued, and the objection seems fatal, 
that though sympathy may diffuse, it cannot origi- 
nate moral sentiments : at the same time he bears 
the strongest testimony to the literary merits and 
moral tendency of the work. 

In 1763 Smith received from the University of 
Glasgow the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, and 
he was offered, and accepted, the situation of travel- 
ling tutor to the young Duke of Buccleugh. His 
long residence in the populous and manufacturing 
metropolis of western Scotland had enabled him to 
collect a rich hoard of materials for the great work 
he had in view ; and this new appointment changed 
the method, rather than interrupted the course, of 
his studies. It afforded him the means of examining 
the habits, institutions, and condition of man under 
new forms, and in new countries, and he observed 
with his natural acuteness and sagacity the influence 
of locality, of climate, and of government. He no 
doubt derived considerable advantage from the society 
of the distinguished men with whom he associated at 
Paris ; among these, Turgot, D'Alembert, Helvetius, 
Marmontel, Morellet, Rochefoucauld, and Quesnay, 
were his intimate friends. So highly did he appre- 


SMITH. -431 

elate the talents of the last-named person as an eco- 
nomist, that he had intended, had Quesnay lived, to 
have acknowledged the debt he owed him by dedi- 
cating to him his own great work on the ' Wealth of 

Having spent two years on the Continent, Dr. 
Smith returned to England with his pupil, and soon 
after joined his mother at Kirkaldy, where he resided 
for about ten years almost entirely in seclusion, oc- 
cupied in the prosecution of his great work. It was 
published in 1776; and few books have ever been 
given to the world tending more directly to destroy 
the prejudices, develop the powers, and promote the 
happiness of mankind. But the world at that time 
was not clear-sighted enough to appreciate its merits. 
Dr. Smith however had the gratification to see that, 
during fifteen years which elapsed between its publi- 
cation and his death, it had produced a considerable 
effect upon public opinion, and that the eyes of men 
were beginning to be opened upon an object of such 
importance to human happiness. In this country at 
least Dr. Smith was the creator of the science of po- 
litical economy, for he had only a chaos of materials 
from which to form it. Some defects may be disco- 
vered in his arrangement, and some errors detected 
in the principles as laid down by him ; for it is hardly 
given to human intellect, that the originator of a sci- 
ence should also carry it to perfection. But Smith 
established the foundation upon which all future su- 
perstructures must rest ; and the labours of Ricardo, 
Malthus, and some now living, eminent as they are, 
instead of superseding their predecessor do but en- 
hance his merit. With all the progress which liberty 
of every kind has made since his time, no one has 
maintained the freedom of industry in all its bearings 
more forcibly than himself. The theories of rent, 
and of population, seem to be the only important 

432 ^ SMITH. 

Lranches of the science, as it now stands, which had 
escaped his observation. 

In 1778 Dr. Smith was appointed Commissioner 
of the Customs for Scotland. The duties of his 
office obliged him to quit London, where he had 
resided for two years subsequent to tlie publication 
of the ' Wealth of Nations,' and where his society- 
had been courted by the most distinguished cha- 
racters ; and he took up his abode in Edinburgh, 
accompanied by his aged mother. In 1787 he was 
elected Rector of the University of Glasgow; a 
compliment which gave him great pleasure, as he 
was much attached to that body, and grateful for 
the services it had rendered him in his youth, and 
the honours it had conferred on him at a more ad- 
vanced age. 

His mother died in 1784, and his grief on this 
occasion is supposed to have injured his health, and 
his constitution, which had never been robust, 
began to give way. He suffered another severe 
privation in the death of his cousin, Miss Douglas, 
who had managed his household for many years, 
since the infirmities of his parent had disqualified 
her for that employment. He survived Miss Douglas 
only two years, and died in 1790 of a tedious and 
painful illness, which he bore witli patience and 

Adam Smith's private character is thus summed 
up by his friend Mr. Dugald Stewart : " The more 
delicate and characteristical features of his mind it 
is perhaps impossible to trace. That tliere were 
many peculiarities both in his manners and in his 
intellectual habits was manifest to the most super- 
ficial observer ; but, although to those who knew 
him, these peculiarities detracted nothing from the 
respect which his abilities commanded; and al- 
though, to his intimate friends, they added an in- 

SMITH. 433 

expressible charm to his conversation, while they 
displayed in the most interesting light the artless 
simplicity of his heart, yet it would require a very 
skilful pencil to present them to the public eye. 
He was certainly not fitted for the general commerce 
of the world, or for the business of active life. The 
comprehensive speculations with which he had been 
occupied from his youth, and the variety of ma- 
terials which his own inventions continually sup- 
plied to his thoughts, rendered him habitually 
inattentive to familiar objects and to common oc- 
currences ; and he frequently exhibited instances of 
absence which had scarcely been surpassed by the 
fancy of La Bruyere. Even in company he was 
apt to be engrossed with his studies, and appeared, 
at times, by the motion of his lips, as well as by his 
looks and gestures, to be in the fervour of composi- 
tion. I have often however been struck, at the 
distance of years, with his accurate memory of the 
most trifling particulars ; and am inclined to believe, 
from this and some other circumstances, that he 
possessed a power, not perhaps uncommon among 
absent men, of recollecting, in consequence of sub- 
sequent efforts of reflection, many occurrences which, 
at the time when they happened, did not seem to 
have sensibly attracted his notice. 

" To the defect now mentioned, it was probably 
owing, in part, that he did not fall in easily with 
the common dialogue of conversation, and that he 
was somewhat apt to convey his own ideas in the 
form of a lecture. When he did so, however, it 
never proceeded from a wish to engross the discourse, 
or gratify his vanity. His own inclination disposed 
him so strongly to enjoy in silence the gaiety of 
those around him, that his friends were often led to 
concert little schemes, in order to engage him in 
the discussions most likely to interest him. Nor 

VOL. III. 2 c 

434 SMITH. 

do I think I shall he accused of going too far, 
when I say that he was scarcely ever known to 
start a new topic himself, or to appear unprepared 
upon those topics that were introduced by others. 
Indeed, his conversation was never more amusing 
than when he gave a loose to his genius, upon the 
very few branches of knowledge of which he only 
possessed the outlines. 

" In his external form and appearance there was 
nothing uncommon. When perfectly at ease, and 
when warmed with conversation, his gestures were 
animated, and not ungraceful; and in the society 
of those he loved, his features were often brightened 
with a smile of inexpressible benignity. . . . He 
never sat for his picture, but the medallion by Tassie 
conveys an exact idea of his profile, and of the 
general expression of his countenance." 

To those of Smith's works of which we have al- 
ready spoken, we have to add two articles in a short- 
lived periodical publication called the ' Edinburgh 
Review,' for 17J)5, containing a review of Johnson's 
Dictionary, and a letter on the state of literature in 
the different countries of Europe ; an ' Essay on 
the Formation of Languages ;' and Essays, pub- 
lished after his death by his desire, with an account 
of his life and writings prefixed, by Dugakl Stewart, 
on the Principles which lead and direct Philoso- 
phical Inquiries ; on the nature of the Imitation 
practised in the Imitative Arts ; on the affinity 
between certain English and Italian verses ; and on 
the External Senses. To that account of his life 
we may refer for an able analysis of his most im- 
portant writings, as well as to the memoir prefixed 
to Mr. Macculloch's edition of the ' Wealth of 
Nations,' from which this sketch is principally 


Samuel Wesley, whose mother was a niece of 
Tliomas Fuller, the church historian, was in his ear- 
liest years thrown by family circumstances among the 
party of the dissenters ; but he abandoned them in 
disgust, and entered at Exeter College, Oxford, in 
1684. He afterwards obtained the livings of Epworth 
and Wroote, in Lincolnshire ; and at the former of 
those places, June 17, 1703, was born his second son 
John. Six yeai"s afterwards, the house was set on 
fire by some refractory parishioners, and the boy was 
forgotten in the first confusion. He was presently 
discovered at a window, and by great exertion res- 
cued at the very moment which promised to be his 
last. John Wesley saw the hand of Providence in 
this preservation, and made it in after life a subject 
of reflection and gratitude. 

At the age of seventeen he was removed from the 
Charterhouse School, where he had made some pro- 


436 WESLEY. 

ficiency, to Christchurch, Oxford ; and the reputation 
by which he was then distinguished was that of a 
skilful loorician and acute disputant. He was destined 
for the Church ; and when the time for ordination 
arrived, after some faint scruples which he professed 
respecting the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian 
Creed and the supposed Calvinistic tendency discover- 
able in the Articles had been removed, he entered 
into orders ; and, as the book which had especially 
excited him on the most serious meditation to under- 
take that office was Jeremy Taylor's ' Rules of Holy 
Living and Dying,' so was it with the deepest ear- 
nestness that his resolution was taken, and with a 
fixed determination to dedicate his life and his death, 
his whole thoughts, feelings, and energies, to the 
service of God. Accordingly, in the selection of his 
acquaintance, he avoided all who did not embrace 
his principles ; and, having now obtained a fellowship 
at Lincoln College, he had the means of assembling 
round him a little society of religious friends or dis- 
ciples, over whom his superior talents and piety gave 
him a natural influence. These, through their strict 
and methodical manner of living, acquired from 
their fellow-students the appellation of Methodists, — a 
name derived from the schools of ancient science, and 
thus destined, through its capricious application by 
a few thoughtless boys, to designate a large and 
vital portion of the Christian world. 

About this time Wesley entered upon his parochial 
duties as his father's curate at Epworth*, and pre- 
sently afterwards, on the approaching death of that 
respectable person, he was strongly urged by his 
family to obtain, as he probably might have done, 
the next presentation for himself. Had he yielded to 

* It was, strictly speaking, during this his absenco from Oxford that 
his little society ilu-n (o! which the leading member was his yonngor bro- 
tUer Charles} acquired the name of Methudist. 

WESLEY. 437 

their solicitations, he might have passed his days in 
humble and peaceful obscurity ; but his mind was too 
large for the limits of a country parish, and he already 
felt that he was intended to serve his Maker in a 
larger field. So, evading the arguments and with- 
standing the entreaties of his friends, he went back 
to reside for a while upon his fellowship at Oxford. 

In the year 1735 he engaged in the more public 
exercise of the ministry in the character of a mission- 
ary. He set sail for the new colony of Georgia in 
America ; he had the countenance of the civil autho- 
rities, and the object which he principally professed 
was the conversion of the Indians. His habits at 
this period were deeply tinged with ascetism. In his 
extreme self-denial and mortification, in respect to 
diet, clothing, and the ordinary comforts of life, he 
affected a more than monastic austerity, and realized 
the tales of eremitical fanaticism. He even declaimed 
against the study of classical authors, and discou- 
raged, as sinful, any application to profane literature. 
And the extravagance of his zeal took a direction, 
such indeed as might be expected from his birth and 
education, but ill adapted to recommend him to the 
affections of the colonists. He adhered, with the ob- 
stinacy of a bigot, to the rubric of the Church ; he 
refused to administer baptism except by immersion ; 
he withheld the communion from a pious dissenter, 
unless he should first consent to be rebaptized ; he 
declined to perform the burial service over another; 
and, while he was exciting much enmity by this exces- 
sive strictness, he formed an indiscreet, though inno- 
cent, connexion with a young woman named Sophia 
Causton, which led him into difficulty, and occasioned, 
after some ludricous and some very serious scenes, his 
sudden and notvery creditable departure from America. 

He remained there a year and nine months with- 
out making, so far as we learn, a single attempt to 

438 WESLEY. 

introduce Christianity among the Indians. He al- 
leged that the Indians had expressed no wish for con- 
version ; and if his conscience was indeed thus easily 
satisfied, he was yet very far removed from Christian 
perfection. Thus much indeed he certainly appears 
to have learnt from this first experiment on his own 
powers, that he was not yet qualified for the office of 
missionary ; for he felt that he, who would have con- 
verted others, was not yet converted himself. 

Wesley had sailed to America in the society of 
some Moravian missionaries, whose exalted piety 
had wrought deeply on his feelings, and given them 
some influence over his conduct. On his return to 
England, while he was alreMy impressed with 
some sense of his own unworthiness, he became 
closely connected with Peter Boehier, a man of 
talents and authority, and a Moravian. Through 
his instructions Wesley became thoroughly con- 
vinced of his own unbelief, and began to pray, 
with all the ardour of his enthusiastic soul, for an 
instantaneous conversion. It was not long before 
he believed that his blessing was vouchsafed to him. 
On the evening of the 24th of May, 1733, as one 
of a society in Aldersgate Street was reading in his 
presence Luther's ' Preface to the Epistle to the 
Romans,' — " About a quarter before nine," says 
Wesley, " while he was describing the change which 
God works in the heart through faith in Christ, 
I felt my heart strangely warmed; I felt I did 
trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation ; and 
an assurance was given me that He had taken 
away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the 
law of sin and death." Howbeit, when he returned 
home, he had still some more struggles with the 
evil one, and was again buffeted by temptations ; 
but he was now triumphant through earnest prayer. 
" And herein," he adds, " I found the difference 

WESLEY. 489 

between this and my former state chiefly to consist. 
I was striving, yea fighting, with all my might 
under the law, as well as under grace ; but then I 
was sometimes, if not often, conquered ; now I am 
always conqueror." This is justly considered as a 
remarkable day in the history of methodism ; and 
Wesley himself attached so much importance to the 
change that had been wrought in him, that he 
scrupled not to proclaim, to the great scandal of 
some of his unregenerate friends, that he had never 
been a Christian until then. 

His first act after his conversion was to set out 
on a visit to the celebrated Moravian colony, esta- 
blished, under the patronage of Count Zinzendorf, at 
Hernnhut in Lusatia. There he employed a fort- 
night in examining the doctrines and discipline of 
that sect, and then returned, as he went, on foot, 
" I would gladly have spent my life here ; but my 
Master calling me to labour in another part of the 
vineyard, I was constrained to take my leave of this 
happy place." Yet he perceived clearly enough 
the imperfections in their method; and his inter- 
course with their noble patron was not such as to 
flatter the ambition, or even the independence, of 
his character. But he had acquired a knowledge 
of their system, and was thus qualified to apply 
to his own purposes any part of it which might 
hereafter serve them. 

Wesley returned from his visit to Germany 
burning with religious enthusiasm, and presently 
entered into the path which Whitefield, his friend 
and disciple, had opened for him. The latter, who Avas 
a few years younger than Wesley, and like him 
educated at Oxford, and in orders, had begun a 
short time before to address the people in the open 
air, at Kingswood near Bristol. Wesley, after some 
little hesitation, proceeding from his respect tor 

440 WESLEY. 

ecclesiastical practice and discipline, followed his 
example, and commenced his field-preaching in the 
same place. Here was the first indication of any 
approach to a separation from the Church, and 
thus in fact were laid the foundations of the sect of 
Methodists ; yet such was not the design, perhaps, 
of either of its founders, — certainly not of \V'esley. 
His scheme, if indeed he had then proposed to him- 
self any fixed scheme, was rather to awaken the 
spirit of religion slumbering within the Church, — 
to revive the dying embers of vital Christianity, — 
to infuse into the languid system new life and 
energy, — to place before the eyes of the people the 
essentials of their faith, and to rouse their religious 
instructors to a proper view of their profession and 
sense of their duty. It was rather an order than a 
sect that he designed to found ; an order subsidiary 
to the Church, in rivalry indeed with the ancient 
branches of the Establishment, but filled with no 
hostile spirit, and having no final object but its re- 
generation. Such as were the Mendicants in respect 
to the Roman Church ; severe in their reproaches 
against the indolence and degeneracy of the clergy, 
whether regular or secular ; severe in their own pro- 
fessions, and for a season in their piety and practice 
too; making their earnest appeals to the lower 
classes, and turning their influence with them to 
their own aggrandieement : yet so fur removed from 
schism, so far from harbouring any ill designs 
against the papacy, as to be the warmest zealots of 
the Vatican, and the most faithful ministers of all 
its projects : — such (so far as the change in civil 
and ecclesiastical principles would permit) the dis- 
ciples of Wesley were probably designed to have 
become, in respect to the English Church, by the 
original intention of their master. At any rate, it 
was certain that the emulation, which he could not 

WESLKY. 441 

fail to rouse, would in the end be serviceable to the 
interests of true religion ; and it is very possible 
that, in the depth of his enthusiasm, he held every 
other consideration to be entirely subordinate to 

The first effects of his public preaching have not 
been surpassed by anything that we read in the 
history of fanaticism. On one occasion, as he was 
inculcating the doctrine of universal redemption, 
" immediately one, and another, and another, sank 
to the earth ; they dropped down on every side as 
thunderstruck." Sometimes, as he began to preach, 
numbers of his believers fell into violent fits and lay 
struggling in convulsions around him. At other 
times his voice was lost amidst the groans and cries 
of his distracted hearers. Wesley encouraged the 
storm which he had raised ; he shared the fanati- 
cism which he imparted ; and in these deplorable 
spectacles of human imbecility he saw nothing but 
the hand of God confirming by miraculous interpo- 
sition the holiness of his mission. 

But however elated the preacher might be by 
these spiritual triumphs, however confident in the 
immediate aid and favour of God, he did not ne- 
glect such human means as occurred to him for 
securing and advancing his conquests. At a very 
early period he divided his followers at Bristol into 
male and female bands, for purposes of mutual con- 
fession and prayer, in imitation of one part of the 
Moravian discipline. The establishment of love 
feasts was equally early. Presently Friday was set 
apart by him for prayer and fasting ; and a house 
was erected (likewise at Bristol) for the meeting of 
his disciples. Things were already advancing to- 
wards schism. The directors of the church dis- 
couraged the extravagance of the teacher, and pitied 
the madness of the people. Many clergvmen, with 

2 c 3 



praiseworthy discretion, refused their pulpits to men 
who might turn them to such strange purposes. And 
this gave a pretext to Wesley for seeking means of in- 
structing the people independent of the Church. 

In the mean time he discovered that there were 
differences between himself and those with whom he 
had hitherto been most closely connected — differ- 
ences the more difficult to reconcile, because they 
concerned points of doctrine — the one with the 
Moravians, the other with Whitefield and his fol- 
lowers. For the arrangement of the former, Count 
Zinzendorf came in person to England, and had 
some conferences with Wesley — but he no longer 
found in him a timid disciple, or obsequious admirer. 
Wesley defended fearlessly the opinions which he 
professed, concerning Christian perfection and the 
means of grace ; and as no concession was possible 
on the other side, the controversy ended in an entire 
and final breach between him and the Moravians. 
The dispute with Whitefield, occasioned by the 
predestinarian doctrines now nakedly advanced by 
him, was conducted with considerable bitterness, 
and came to a similar termination. Not that the 
separation was in this case so complete as to pre- 
clude a temporary reconciliation, which was effected 
some years afterwards ; but the difference was clearly 
proved to be real and irreconcileable ; and the per- 
manent division of methodism may in fact be dated 
from the year 1740. 

From this time Wesley, having shaken off two 
connexions which had embarrassed more than they 
had strengthened him, became the sole head and 
mover of a considerable religious party : and he 
immediately applied his talents to give it organiza- 
tion and perpetuity. He divided his followers into 
classes, each under the direction of a leader. He 
caused pecuniary contributions to be collected from 

WESLEY. 443 

the individuals composing those classes, so as to 
establish a permanent fund for the support of his 
society, bearing an exact proportion to the number 
of its members. He appointed itinerant preachers, 
and instructed them to preach in the open air, under 
the plea that they were excluded from the pulpits of 
the Church. And lastly and reluctantly, — for he 
still retained much affection for that Church, and 
could not be blind to the consequences of the 
measure, — he committed the office of preaching to 
laymen. In the first instance, indeed, he conceded 
to them no more than the privilege of expounding 
the Gospel ; but, seeing how soon they deviated from 
exposition into preaching, he thought it wiser at 
once to acknowledge the latter as a part of his 
system, and thus acquire the power of preventing, 
as far as might be, its abuse. These men were, for 
the most part, humbly born and ill educated. But 
their zeal supplied, in popular estimation, the place 
of learning; and their habits of poverty enabled 
them to endure the privations incident to the mis- 
sionary of a new sect. Thus were their labours 
attended with great success; and this was essentially 
promoted by a very sage provision of Wesley, that 
no confession of faith should be required on admis- 
sion into his community. The door was thus open 
to all mankind. The new member was never called 
upon to secede from the body to which he had pre- 
viously belonged. He might bear what denomina- 
tion he chose among the visible members of Christ's 
Church, so long as he renounced his vices and his 
pleasures, and engaged with a regenerate heart in 
the work of his salvation. 

At this time (about 1742) Wesley and his dis- 
ciples attained that degree of importance, which 
qualified them to become objects of persecution. It 
was among the lower classes that they had thrown 



the torch of fanaticism, and it was from the same 
that the outrages which now assailed them proceeded. 
On two or three occasions the person of the master 
himself was in some danger from popular fur\' ; and 
it may perhaps have been presented by his singular 
presence of mind, and the awe which he knew how 
to inspire into his fellow-creatures. But these violent 
eruptions of indignation, as they were founded on no 
semblance of reason, and opposed by the civil autho- 
rities, were partial and of short duration ; and as 
the rumours of them were much exaggerated at the 
time, their influence, as far as they had any, was 
probably favourable to the progress of methodism. 
Some calumnies that were raised against Wesley 
from more respectable quarters, touching his ten- 
dency to papacy and his disaffection to the reigning 
dynasty, arising from entire misunderstanding or 
pure malevolence, were immediately repelled, and 
speedily silenced and forgotten. 

In the year 1744 Wesley invited his brother 
Charles, four other clergymen who co-operated with 
him, and four of his lay-preachers, to a Conference : 
this was the origin of the assembly or council, which 
was afterwards held annually, and became the 
governing body, for the regulation of the general 
affairs of the society. Four years subsequently, a 
school was opened at Kingswood, for the education 
chiefly of the sons of the preachers. In the extreme 
severity of some of the rules which he imposed on 
this establishment, Wesley seems to have been 
guided by an ambitious design to set apart his own 
people from the rest of the community, rather than 
by the common principles of education, or the com- 
mon feelings of nature. And so jealous was he of 
any other influence being exerted on his children, 
that they were not allowed to be absent from the 
school, not even for a day, from their first admission 

WESLEY. 445 

till their final removal from it. Notwithstanding 
however the peculiarity and, as he thought, the 
purity of his system, he met with many difficulties 
and reverses in his first attempts to place it on a 
permanent foundation. 

We may pass over the circumstances of his unfor- 
tunate marriage, which ended, after a few months 
of discord and vexation, in a hasty, but final sepa- 
ration. His wife, after proving herself his foulest 
slanderer and bitterest enemy, presently deserted 
him. " Non earn reliqui (says Wesley) — non dimisi 
— non revocabo." I have not left her — I have not 
put her away — I will not recal her." The same 
calmness of temper and perfect self-possession, which 
so remarkably distinguished him in his public pro- 
ceedings, seem not to have abandoned him even in 
the more pressing severity of his domestic trials. 

Neither have we space to notice the controversies 
which he carried on with two of the most eminent 
divines of his time, bishops Lavington and War- 
burton ; since Wesley, though engaged in dispute 
with the prelates of the Church, and very frequent 
and bitter in the reproaches which he cast against 
its ministers, still adhered to its communion, and 
had yet committed no act declaratory of absolute 
independence. But later in life he advanced farther 
towards schism. First of all, as he did not assume 
for his lay-preachers the power of administering the 
sacrament, he caused several to be ordained by one 
Erasmus, a Greek Bishop of Arcadia — thus evading 
the spiritual authority, which he could not contest, 
and which he did not yet venture to dispense with. 
But this was a feeble resource, unworthy of his 
courage, and unavailing to his purposes. A stronger 
measure followed. His disciples were very numerous 
in America, and it was desirable to send out to them 
a head, invested with the highest spiritual authority* 

446 WESLEY, 

Dr. Coke, an " evangelical" clergyman, was selected 
for that office, and Wesley took upon himself to 
invest him with the requisite dignity. These letters 
of ordination are dated September 2, 1784, and 
announce, in substance, that Wesley thought himself 
providentially called, at that time, to set apart some 
persons for the work of the ministry in America ; 
and therefore, under the protection of Almighty 
God, and with a single eye to his glory, had that 
day set apart, as a superintendent, by the imposition 
of his hands and prayer, Thomas Coke, a doctor of 
civil law, and a presbyter of the Church of England. 

In this affair, it was weak in Wesley to plead (as 
he did) a seasonable conviction, that in the true 
primitive Church the order of bishop and presbyter 
were one and the same — for if Wesley exercised as 
presbyter episcopal authority, so, under the same 
plea, might Dr. Coke have exercised it, without any 
imposition of Wesley's hands. This was a shallow 
pretence, which could scarcely have deceived him- 
self. The fact was, that Wesley, now acting as the 
sole head of a separate religious party, assumed the 
prerogatives of the highest ecclesiastical dignity; 
and resolved that ail the privileges of his ministers 
should emanate from himself. This is properly 
considered as a second important epoch in the 
history of methodism. 

Wesley was then eighty-one years old, and he 
lived for seven years longer, in the perfect enjoyment 
of his health and exercise of his faculties, almost to 
the very end. He died March 2, 1791 : leaving no 
property, except the copywright and current editions 
of his works, which he bequeathed for the use of the 
connexion. The whole number of his followers, at 
the time of his decease, is stated at about 135,000, 
of whom more than 57,600 were Americans. In 
the United Kingdoms, his principal success had been 



in some of the large towns in England and in Ireland. 
But he complains of the coldness with which his 
preaching was, for the most part, received by the 
agricultural classes generally, and by the entire 
Scotch nation — facts which may however be ac- 
counted for, without supposing any religious obduracy 
either in the one or the other. 

[Monument to Wesley in the Chapel in the City Road.] 

Thus did Wesley live to fix and consolidate, by 
the calmer deliberation of his later years, the effects, 
which might otherwise have been transient, of his 
early enthusiasm. It required many talents, as well 
as many virtues, to accomplish this — and Wesley 
was abundantly endowed with both. The natural 
ardour and eagerness of his character was moderated 

443 WESLEY. 

by ^eat sagacity and calm judgment, a conciliating 
and forgiving temper. If he loved power, he did not 
covet money ; but bestowed all that he had upon the 
poor. Doubtless his original object was simply to 
awaken the dormant spirit of vital Christianity ; and 
if spiritual ambition, fomented by the general dis- 
couragement which he received from the clergy, 
seduced him too readily — though reluctantly and in 
opposition to his own professions, and even to his 
own intentions — into what did in fact amount to 
schism ; yet the breach is not even now irreparable, 
if only his better spirit shall preside in the councils 
of his disciples, and be met with a kindred feeling of 
religious moderation by the directors of the Esta- 
blished Church. 


In the history of trade there is nothing so remark- 
able as the rapid and immense increase of the 
British cotton manufacture during the last thirty- 
years of the eighteenth century. Two nearly con- 
temporaneous discoveries concurred to produce that 
increase : the invention of machinery for spinning ; 
and the improvement, we might almost say comple- 
tion, of the steam-engine by James Watt. To his 
eminent merits we have borne our testimony in our 
memoir of him ; and scarcely less important, though 
less imposing, have been the services of the ingenious 
men who contrived to spin thread without the use of 
the human hand. We do not hesitate to take Ark- 
wright as the representative of those who wrought 
this great revolution in our manufacturing system, 
for thougli recent evidence has refuted his claim to 
the invention, properly speaking, of spinning by 
machinery, he was the first person who rendered 
that invention profitable. 


By the year 1760, the manufacture of cotton 
goods, which had been increasing slowly from the 
beginning of the century, had attained considerable 
importance. In 1764, the declared value of British 
cotton goods exported was upwards of 200,000/., 
having increased tenfold within forty or fifty years. 
At this period the demand for them exceeded the 
supply, in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining 
a sufficient quantity of yarn for weaving. The one- 
thread spinning-wheel, now nearly banished from 
our cottages, was then the sole source from which 
spun-yarn could be obtained ; and the trades of 
spinning and weaving were commonly united in a 
humble manner — the man wove, while his wife and 
daughters spun. If this domestic supply was insuf- 
ficient, the weaver had often to waste time and labour 
in collecting materials for his daily work. Mr. 
Guest states, that " it was no uncommon thing for 
a weaver to walk three or four miles in a morning, 
and call on five or six spinners, before he could 
collect weft to serve him for the remainder of the 
day; and when he wished to weave a piece in a 
shorter time than usual, a new ribbon or a gown 
was necessary to quicken the exertions of the spin- 
ner." This check existing on the industry of the 
weaver, it is no wonder that mechanical ingenuity 
was tasked to invent a quicker way of spinning. 
The principle of the first plan by which this was 
effected may be easily explained. Suppose a ribbon 
placed between two horizontal cylinders which are 
in contact with each other ; if the cylinders are 
made to revolve, it is evident that they will draw 
the ribbon onwards in the direction of their motion. 
Again, if the foremost end of it be presented to a 
second pair of similar revolving cylinders, it will be 
drawn through these also. If both pairs revolve 
with exactly the same velocity, it will pass through 


them unaltered ; but if the second pair revolve with 
greater velocity than the first, there will be a certain 
strain on the intermediate ribbon, which, if exten- 
sible, will be stretched in the same degree that the 
velocity of the second pair of rollers exceeds that 
of the first. Now cotton, after being cleaned and 
carded, comes from the card in fleecy rolls, the fibres 
of which are laid parallel, and so made fit to spin. 
To reduce these to thread or yarn takes more than 
one operation : the first brings the cardings into 
thick, loosely twisted threads, called rovings ; the 
subsequent ones reduce the rovings into yarn fit for 
the loom. It is evident that both the cardings and 
rovings are fitted by their texture for the process of 
extension by rollers described above ; and that they 
would be drawn out twofold, fourfold, or in any 
greater or less degree, proportionate to the difference 
of velocity between the first and second pair of rollers. 
From the second pair the thread is delivered to a 
spindle, which gives the due degree of twist ; and it 
is finally wound on a bobbin : the whole being set 
in motion by the same mechanical power. It is 
evident that many spindles might be attached to, 
and many threads spun by, the same combination of 
rollers. Arkwright claimed the merit of this inven- 
tion. It is proved, however, by the undeniable evi- 
dence of an existing patent, printed by Mr. Baines 
in his History of the Cotton Manufactiu'e, that this 
principle of spinning by rollers was patented, so early 
as the year 1738, by a foreigner named Lewis Paul ; 
the real inventor was John Wyatt, of Birmingham. 
In their hands however, though the invention did 
not absolutely fail, it did not so succeed as to be 
brought into general use, or even to become profit- 
able to the inventors. Simple and obvious as the 
principle appears when once laid down, great diffi- 
culties were to be overcome in forming this stretched 


cotton into a useful thread; as may be conceived 
from reflecting on the great rapidity with which, to 
make spinning profitable, parts of the machine must 
move, the perfect regularity of motion requisite, and 
the slightness of the strain which a few untwisted 
filaments of cotton will bear. For the apparently 
trivial object of producing a uniform line of fine 
yarn, the utmost efforts of mechanical ingenuity 
have been called forth, and some of the most beau- 
tiful, delicate, and powerful machinery in existence 
has been constructed. It was in overcoming these 
difficulties that the talent or perseverance of Paul 
and Wyatt failed ; the merit of conquering them, 
and giving birth to a new system of manufacture, 
belongs to Arkwright. We quote the following 
notice of his early life from Mr. Baines: — 

" Richard Arkwright rose by the force of his 
natural talents from a very humble condition in 
society. He was born at Preston, December 23, 
1732, of poor parents. Being the youngest of thir- 
teen children, his parents could only afford to give 
him an education of the humblest kind, and he was 
scarcely able to write. He was brought up to tlie 
trade of a barber, at Kirkham and Preston, and 
established himself in that business at Bolton, in 
1760. Having become possessed of a chemical 
process for dyeing human hair, which in that day, 
when wigs were universal, was of considerable value, 
he travelled about collecting hair, and again dis- 
posing of it when dyed. In 1761, he married a wife 
from Leigh, and the connexions he thus formed 
in that town are supposed to have afterwards 
brought[him acquainted with Highs's experiments in 
making spinning machines. He himself manifested 
a strong bent for experiments in mechanics, which 
he is stated to have followed with so much devoted- 
ness as to have neglected his business and injured 


Ilis circumstances. His natural disposition was 
ardent, enterprising, and stubbornly persevering; 
his mind was as coarse as it was bold and active, 
and his manners were rough and unpleasing." 

In the course of his travels in 1767, he fell in 
with a clockmaker, named Kay, at Warrington, 
whom he employed as a workman in prosecuting 
some of his mechanical experiments. Kay, accord- 
ing to his own account, gave Arkwright some 
description of a machine contrived by one Highs, 
for spinning by rollers. It is certain that from 
thenceforward Arkwright abandoned his former pur- 
suits, and applied himself, in conjunction with Kay, 
to the construction of a spinning machine. One 
Smalley, a liquor-merchant of Preston, assisted him 
with money ; and the two, fearing lest they might 
be endangered by a riotous spirit which had been 
directed against machinery in Lancashire, went to 
settle at Nottingham. There Arkwright obtained 
an introduction to Messrs. Need and Strutt, two 
gentlemen largely engaged in the stocking manu- 
factory, who appreciated his talents, and entered 
into partnership with him. What became of Mr. 
Smalley we do not hear. Arkwright took out a 
patent for his invention, which was enrolled, July 
15, 1769. The partners erected a mill near Not- 
tingham, which was turned by horse-power : but 
this was soon superseded by a much larger es- 
tablishment at Cromford in Derbyshire, on the river 
Derwent, in which water-power was applied for the 
first time to the. purpose of spinning ; and from that 
circumstance Arkwright's machine was called the 

As the difficulty of meeting the weavers' demand 
for yarn had led to the invention of machines for 
spinning, so the rapid manufacture of yarn rendered 
it indispensable to facilitate the prior operations in 


preparing the raw material. Men's minds had been 
turned to this object for some time. The operation 
of carding, whether wool or cotton, was at first done 
with hand-cards of small size. The first improve- 
ment was the invention of stock-cards, one of which 
was fixed, and the other held in the hand, or after- 
wards suspended from above, so that the workman 
could manage a much larger card, and prepare 
more cotton in a given time. The next and main 
improvement was placing cards lengthways upon a 
cylinder, which worked within a concave half cylin- 
der of the same diameter. This process was patented 
by Paul in 1748. But he derived no profit from 
this, any more than from his former patent ; and it 
was not until after the improvements in spinning 
that the method of carding by cylinders was brought 
into use. Arkwright was not the first to revive it, 
but he had a great share in perfecting the carding 
machinery when it had been revived. The raw 
cotton being carded, an extension, or rather a new 
application, of the principle of spinning by rollers 
converted the cardings into rovings, which again 
were made into yarn fit for the loom by the water- 
frame, or, as it is now called in an improved form, 
the throstle. Arkwright took out his second patent, 
December 16, 1775; this included the carding ma- 
chine, drawing-frame, and roving-frame, a series of 
engines by which the cotton, from its raw state, was 
rendered fit for the last process of spinning. We 
shall not attempt to explain the construction of 
these elaborate machines, which can hardly be ren- 
dered intelligible even by the help of numerous 

The process of turning cotton-wool into thread by 
machinery was thus completed. Before we follow 
its effects upon Arkwright's fortunes, it is proper to 
say a few words concerning other improvements. 


About, or somewhat earlier than, the time when 
Arkwright's attention was first turned to spinning, 
a weaver named James Hargreaves, of Stand Hill, 
near Blackburn, invented a machine by which, ac- 
cording to the terms of the patent, sixteen or more 
threads might be spun by one person at the same 
time. This is the machine so well known under the 
name of the spinning-jemiy. Hargreaves' patent 
was invaded, and invalidated on technical grounds ; 
so that his machine came rapidly into general use, 
and for spinning the tveft was preferred to Ark- 
wright's water-frame, from which it was entirely 
different in principle. Samuel Crompton, an inge- 
nious weaver resident near Bolton, between the years 
1774 and 1779, tried to unite the principles of both, 
and produced a machine which, on that account, he 
called a mule. This, under different improved 
forms, is the machine now generally used in spin- 
ning ; but the water-frame, or throstle, is still found 
to answer best for some kinds of work*. But to 
return to the fortunes of Arkwright : the series of 
machines which he invented or improved gave an 
amazing impulse to the cotton trade. *' Weavers 
could now obtain an unlimited quantity of yarn at a 
reasonable price ; manufacturers could use warps of 
cotton, which were much cheaper than the linen 
warps formerly used. Cotton fabrics could be sold 
lower than had ever before been known. The de- 
mand for them consequently increased. The shuttle 
flew with fresh energy, and the weavers earned im- 
moderately high wages. Spinning-mills were erected 
to supply the requsite quantity of yarn. The fame 

* A third person has been mentioned as the inventor both of the jenny 
and of roller-spinning, Thomas Highs, of Leigh, above-mentioned, wliose 
claims seem entitled to more courteous notice than they have met with in 
the Ediul)urgh Review. There is uothitig unreasonaljle in supposing 
that both Highs and Arkwright may have heard of Wyatt's method of 
spinning by rollers, which was practised iu two factories, one erected ut 
liiimisjihau), the other at NotUagtiam« 


of Arkwrig'ht resounded through the land, and capi- 
talists flocked to him to buy his patent machines, or 
permission to use them.'' * * * 

" The factory system in England takes its rise 
from this period. Hitherto the cotton manufacture 
had been carried on almost entirely in the houses 
of the workmen : the hand or stock-cards, the spin- 
ning-wheel, and the loom, required no larger apart- 
ment than that of a cottage. A spinning-jenny of 
small size might also be used in a cottage, and in 
many instances was so used ; when the number of 
spindles was considerably increased, adjacent work- 
shops were used. But the water-frame, the carding- 
engine, and the other machines which Arkwright 
brought out in a finished state, required both more 
space than could be found in a cottage, and more 
power than could be applied by the human arm. 
Their weight also made it necessary to place them 
in strongly-built mills, and they could not be ad- 
vantageously turned by any power then known but 
that of water." 

" The use of machinery was accompanied by a 
greater di%'ision of labour than existed in the primi- 
tive state of the manufacture ; the material went 
through many more processes, and of course the loss 
of time and the risk of waste would have been much 
increased, if its removal from house to house at 
every stage of the manufacture had been necessary. 
It became obvious that there were several important 
advantages in carrying on the numerous operations 
of an extensive manufacture in the same building. 
Where water-power was required, it was economy 
to build one mill, and put up one water-wheel, 
rather than several. This arrangement also enabled 
the master-spinner himself to superintend every 
stage of the manufacture ; it gave him a greater 
security against the wasteful or fraudulent consump- 


tion of the material ; it saved time in the transference 
of the work from hand to hand ; and it prevented 
the extreme inconvenience which would have re- 
sulted from the failure of one class of workmen to 
perform their part, when several other classes of 
workmen were dependent upon them. Another 
circumstance which made it advantageous to have a 
large number of machines in one manufactory was, 
that mechanics must be employed on the spot to 
construct and repair the machinery, and that their 
time could not be fully occupied with only a few 

" All these considerations drove the cotton-spin- 
ners to that important change in the economy of 
English manufacturers, the introduction of the fac- 
tory system ; and when that system had once been 
adopted, such were its pecuniary advantages that 
mercantile competition would have rendered it im- 
possible, even had it been desirable, to abandon it." 
(Baines, ' History of Cotton Manufacture,' pages 
183, 185.) 

It was not to be expected that Arkwright would 
enjoy undisturbed so valuable a monopoly as that 
which he had created, and many persons infringed 
his patents, in the belief that he was not the real 
owner of the inventions which he claimed. An 
attempt was made in 1772 to set aside his first 
patent for the water-frame ; but this failed, and he 
retained the enjoyment of that patent unquestioned 
till the expiration of the fourteen years. To preserve 
his second patent, for the carding, drawing, and 
roving machines, he brought several actions against 
master-spinners, one of which, against Colonel Mor- 
daunt, was tried in 1781, and a verdict was obtained 
for the defendant, setting aside the patent. Ark- 
wright for some time did not contest this decision. 
But in 1781, he made another attempt to establish 

VOL. HI. 2 D 


his second patent before a court of law ; and in the 
first instance obtained a verdict in his own favour, 
but on the cause being reheard, the patent was finally 
declared invalid. 

Notwithstanding this defeat, Arkwright rapidly 
acquired a very large fortune, through the magnitude 
of his concerns, and his industry, penetration, and 
skill in business. On the dissolution of his part- 
nership with the Messrs. Strutt about 1783, the ex- 
tensive works at Cromfonl fell to his share. In 
1786, he was High Sheritf of Derbyshire, and was 
knighted, on occasion of presenting an address to the 
King. We find no other record worth notice of the 
last years of his life. He died, August 3, 1792, in 
his sixtieth year. 

Arkwright's originality and honesty as an inven- 
tor have been violently impugned by Mr. Guest, in 
his History of the Cotton Manufacture. The argu- 
ments on the other side may be seen in the Edin- 
burgh Review, No. 91, to which Guest published a 
reply. Mr. Baines's History of the Cotton Manu- 
facture, which we have chiefly followed and largely 
quoted from in this account, contains the latest and 
fullest account which we have seen of Arkwright's 
character and history. There appears to have been 
some alloy of selfishness and disingenuousness in his 
disposition, some ground for the statement of counsel 
in the trial of 1785 : " It is a notorious story in tlie 
manufacturing counties ; all men that have seen 
Mr. Arkwright in a state of opulence have shaken 
their heads, and thought of these poor men, Highs 
and Kay, and have thought, too, that they were en- 
titled to some participation of the profits." Still it 
becomes us to speak with gentleness of the faults of 
a person to whose talents, nationally speaking, we 
owe so much, and there is much to be said in extenua- 
tion of them, in consideration of the lowness of his 


original calling, of the self-complacency and sensi- 
tive jealousy common to almost all schemers, and 
the fascination of wealth when it flows largely and 
unexpectedly upon a man bred in extreme poverty. 
As an inventor Arkwright's merit is undeniable. 
Mr. Baines, who seems to have judged calmly and 
impartially, assigns to him the high praise, that " in 
improving and perfecting mechanical inventions, in 
exactly adapting them to the purposes for which 
they were intended, in arranging a comprehensive 
system of manufacturing, and in conducting vast 
and complicated concerns, he displayed a bold and 
fertile mind, and consummate judgment, which, when 
his want of education, and the influence of an em- 
ployment so extremely unfavourable to mental ex- 
pansion as that of his previous life, are considered, 
must have excited the astonishment of mankind. 
But the marvellous and ' unbounded invention,' 
which he claimed for himself and which has been 
too readily accorded to him — the creative faculty 
which devised all that admirable mechanism, so en- 
tirely new in its principles, and characteristic of the 
first order of mechanical genius — which has given a 
new spring to the industry of the world, and within 
half a century has reared up the most extensive 
manufacture ever known — this did not belong to 
Arkwright.'' * * * * 

" The most marked traits in the character of 
Arkwright were his wonderful ardour, energy, and 
perseverance. He commonly laboured in his multi- 
farious concerns from five o'clock in the morning till 
nine at night ; and when considerably more than 
fifty years of age, feeling that the defects of his edu- 
cation placed him under great difficulty and incon- 
venience in conducting his correspondence, and in 
the general management of his business, he en- 
croached upon his sleep, in order to gain an hour 



each day to learn English grammar, and another 
hour to improve his writing and orthography ! He 
was impatient of whatever interfered with his favour- 
ite pursuits ; and the fact is too strikingly character- 
istic not to be mentioned, that he separated from his 
wife not many years after his marriage, because she, 
convinced that he would starve his family by schem- 
ing when he should have been shaving, broke some 
of his experimental models of machinery. Ark- 
wright was a severe economist of time ; and, that he 
might not waste a moment, he generally travelled 
with four horses, and at a very rapid speed. His 
concerns in Derbyshire, Lancashire, and Scotland, 
were so extensive and numerous as to show at once 
his astonishing power of transacting business, and 
his all-grasping spirit. In many of these he had 
partners, but he generally managed in such a way 
that, whoever lost, he himself was a gainer. So un- 
bounded was his confidence in the success of his ma- 
chinery, and in the national wealth to be produced 
by it, that he would make light Of discussions on 
taxation, and say that he would pay the national 
debt ! His speculative schemes were vast and 
daring ; he contemj)lated entering into the most ex- 
tensive mercantile transactions, and buying up all 
the cotton in the world, in order to make an enor- 
mous profit by the monopoly ; and from the extra- 
vagance of some of these designs, his judicious friends 
were of opinion that, if he had tried to put them in 
practice, he might have overset the whole fabric of 
his prosperity." 


That most of those who are now by universal con- 
sent numbered among the benefactors of the human 
race reaped little benefit from their genius, however 
actively exerted, is a melancholy truth not to be dis- 
puted, and seldom more strongly exemplified than in 
the instance of the great composer who is the sub- 
ject of this memoir. He to whom all the really 
civilized parts of the world are so deeply indebted for 
the increase, to an almost incalculable amount, of 
the stock of an intellectual and innocent pleasure, 
scarcely ever enjoyed a moment s respite from ill-re- 
quited labour and corroding anxieties : few, not in a 
state of actual want, ever suffered more from the 
evils of poverty ; and he who left so valuable a trea- 
sure to mankind had not, in the hour of death, the 

2 s3 

462 MOZART. 

consolation of feeling that he had been able to secure 
against the miseries of dependence an affectionate 
wife and her helpless offspring. 


Mozart was born at Salzburg, January 26, 1756. 
His father, Leopold, was sub-chapelmaster, or organ- 
ist, to the Prince- Archbishop of Salzburg, and a skil- 
ful performer on the violin, a valuable treatise on 
which instrument he published, in quarto, under 
the title of ' Violinschule,' in 1769. Whatever 
time the duties of his office left at his disposal he 
devoted to the education of his two children, and he 
began to give his daughter, who was four years older 
than her brother, instructions on the harpsicord, 
when the latter had scarcely completed his third 
year. The boy's strong disposition for music then 
immediately developed itself; his delight was to seek 
out thirds on the instrument, and his joy was un- 
bounded when he succeeded in discovering one of 
these harmonious concords. 

When Wolfgang had attained his fourth year, 
says M. Schlichtegroll, his father began, though 
hardly in earnest, to teach him a few minuets and 
other short pieces of music. It took the child half 
an hour to learn a minuet, and proportionately more 
time to master compositions of greater length. In 
less than two years he had made such progress, that 
he invented short pieces of music, which his father, 
to encourage such promising talent, committed to 
writing. It is to be regretted that not one of these 
curious manuscripts, if preserved, has ever been pro- 
duced. Before he began to manifest a predilection 
for music, his amusements were like those of other 
children ; and so ardent was he in the pursuit of 
them, that he would willingly have sacrificed his 
meals rather than be interrupted in his enjoyment. 
His great sensibility was observable as soon as he 

MOZART. 463 

could make his feelings understood. Frequently he 
said to those about him, " Do you love me well ?" 
and, when in sport he was answered in the negative, 
tears immediately began to flow. He pursued every- 
thing with extraordinary ardour. While learning the 
elements of arithmetic, the tables, chairs, even the 
walls, bore in chalk the marks of his calculations. 
And here it will not be irrelevant to state, — what we 
believe has never yet appeared in print, — that his 
talent for the science of numbers was only inferior to 
that for music : had he not been distinguished by 
genius of a higher order, it is probable that his cal- 
culating powers would have been sufficiently remark- 
able to bring him into general notice. 

When under six years of age Mozart surprised 
his father, though well accustomed to these prema- 
ture manifestations of musical genius, by the produc- 
tion of a concerto for the harpsichord, written in 
every respect according to rule, the only objection to 
which was its difficulty of execution. This circum- 
stance at once determined Leopold Mozart to let the 
youthful prodigy be seen at some of the courts of 
Germany. He therefore carried his vt'hole famil}'-, 
as soon as Wolfgang had completed his sixth year, 
to Munich, where they were received by the Elector 
in so flattering a manner, that the party returned to 
Salzburg to prepare for other visits. In 1762 they 
proceeded to Vienna, and performed at court. Here 
Mozart, when sitting down to play, said to the empe- 
ror Francis I., — " Is not M. Wagenseil here ? he 
ought to be present ; he understands such matters." 
The emperor sent for M. Wagenseil. " Sir," said 
the child to the composer, " I shall play one of your 
concertos, — you must turn the leaves for me.'' 
About the same time, a small violin was purchased 
for him, merely for his amusement; but, while it 
was supposed to be little more than a toy in his 

464 MOZART. 

hands, he made himself so far a master of the instru- 
ment, that when Wenzl, the violinist, brought his 
newly-composed trios to Leopold Mozart for his opi- 
nion, Wolfgang supplicated to be allowed to take 
the second violin part, and accomplished the task as 
much to the satisfaction of the composer as to the 
wonder of all. 

In 1763 the Mozart family commenced an exten- 
ded tour, giving concerts in the principal cities 
through which they passed. In Paris they continued 
five months, and Wolfgang performed on the organ 
in the chajjelle du roi, in presence of the whole 
court. There he composed and published his first 
two works, which, compared with other productions 
of the day, are by no means trivial. In April, 1764, 
the party arrived in London, where they remained 
till the middle of the following year. Here, as in 
France, the boy exhibited his talents before the royal 
family, and underwent more severe trials than any to 
which he had before been exposed, through which 
he passed in a most triumphant manner. So much 
interest did he excite in London, that the Hon. 
Daines Harrington drew up an account of his extra- 
ordinary performances, which was read before the 
Royal Society, and declared by the council of that 
body to be sufficiently interesting and important to 
form part of the Philosophical Transactions, in the 
seventieth volume of which it is published. But, some 
suspicions having been entertained by many persons 
that the declared was not the real age of the youth- 
ful prodigy, Mr. Barrington obtained, through 
Count Haslang, then Bavarian minister at the Bri- 
tish court, a certificate of Wolfgang's birth, signed 
by the chaplain of the Archbishop of Salzburg, 
which at once dispelled all doubts on the subject. 

In 1765 the family returned to the continent. 
At the Hague, where Mozart published six sonatas, 

MOZART. 465 

they remained some months ; then paid a second 
long visit to Paris, and, passing through Switzer- 
land, reached Salzburg in 1768. Some time after 
the children performed at Vienna before Joseph II., 
by whose desire Mozart composed an entire opera, 
La finta Sposa. Hasse and Metastasio both be- 
stowed great commendations on the work, but it 
never was produced on the stage, and the proba- 
bility is that its merit was only of a relative kind. 

In 1769 Mozart (in his fourteenth year !) was 
appointed director of the Archbishop of Salzburg's 
concerts. Shortly after he proceeded with his father 
to Italy, where he was received with enthusiasm. 
At Rome he gave a proof of memory which is still 
the subject of conversation in that city. He heard 
the famous Miserere of Allegri in the pontifical 
chapel, and, knowing that the pope's singers were 
forbidden, under pain of excommunication, to fur- 
nish a copy, or allow one, under any plea, to be 
taken, he gave his utmost attention to the compo- 
sition during its performance, wrote it down when 
he returned home, and exultingly carried it with 
him to Germany. While in Italy the pope invested 
him with the order of the Golden Spur. At Bologna 
he was unanimously elected a member of the Phil- 
harmonic Academy, He reached Milan in October, 
1770, and in the following December gave his second 
opera, Mitridate, which had a run of twenty nights. 
In 1773 he composed another serious opera, Lucio 
Silla ; this was performed twenty-six nights suc- 
cessivelj\ He produced many other works of various 
kinds between that year and 1779, when he fixed his 
residence permanently in Vienna. 

In his twenty-fifth year he was captivated by 
Madlle. Constance Weber, an amiable, accomplished, 
and celebrated actress, to whom he soon made a pro- 
posal of marriage. This was courteously declined 

466 MOZART. 

by her famllv, on the groiuKl that his reputation was 
not then sufficiently established. Upon this he com- 
posed his Idomeneo, in order to prove what means 
were at his command ; and, animated by the strong- 
est passion that ever entered his heart, produced an 
opei'a which he always considered his highest effort : 
certainly it was the first that showed his positive 
strength. Parts of it are in his most original and 
grandest manner; but parts show that he had not 
quite emancipated himself from the thraldom of 
custom. Some of the airs, though far superior to 
those of his contemporaries, are too much in the 
opera style then prevailing, a style now become 
nearly obsolete ; and when, a few years ago, it was 
wished to bring out Idomeneo at the King's Theatre, 
it became evident that, if performed as originally 
written, its success would be very doubtful. To 
Madlle. Weber, on whom the composer's affections 
were unalterably fixed, was assigned the principal 
character in the opera, and the high reputation 
which the author acquired by his work having 
immediately silenced the objections of Constance's 
family, her hand was shortly after the reward of his 

In 1782 Mozart composed Die Entfiihrung aus 
dem Serail, (L'Enlevement du Serail,) and here it 
is evident that he had entirely broken the fetters 
which before he had only loosened. Here is exhi- 
bited that style which, in an improved state, after- 
wards characterised all his dramatic works. It was 
on the first representation of this opera that Joseph 
II. remarked to the composer, — " AH this may be 
very fine, but there are too many notes for our ears." 
To which Mozart, with that independent spirit which 
always characterised him, replied,- — " There are, 
Sire, just as many as there ought to be." Le 
Nozze di Figai'o — second in merit only to Don 

MOZART. 467 

Giovanni, if to that — was produced in 1786, by 
command of the emperor, by whose authority alone 
an Italian conspiracy against it was suppressed. 

In 1787 appeared, first at Prague, the chef- 
dfceuvre of Mozart, his Don Giovanni, which was 
received with enthusiasm by the Bohemians, but at 
that time, and indeed years after, was above the 
comprehension of the Viennese public, whose taste, 
unlike that which prevails in the north of Germany, 
still inclines them to prefer the nerveless, meagre 
compositions of Italy. " This matchless work of 
its immortalized author," never found its way to 
our Anglo-Italian stage till the year 1817, when it 
was performed in a manner that surpassed all former 
representations, and has never since been equalled. 
The production of Don Giovanni in London, — 
which put ten thousand pounds into the manager's 
pocket, and forms an era in our musical history — 
was so strenuously opposed by an Italian cabal, that, 
but for the courage and preseverance of the director 
of that season, it would have been put aside, even 
after all the expense of getting up and trouble of 
rehearsing had been incurred. The charming comic 
opera, Cosi fan tutti, was composed in 1790 ; Die 
Zauberflote and La Clemenza di Tito, in 1791 ; the 
latter for the coronation of Leopold II. 

The last and, taken as the whole, the most sub- 
lime work of Mozart, his Requiem, was written on 
his death-bed ; and, having been left in rather an 
unfinished state, his pupil, Siissmayer, filled up some 
of the accompaniments. This circumstance led, a 
few years ago, to a dispute concerning its author- 
ship, some indiscreet friends of the latter having 
claimed as his composition the best parts of the mass. 
The assertions by which the claim was supported, 
and the arguments in its favour, proA'ed unavailincr 
against the internal evidence which the work af- 

468 MOZART. 

forded, and it is to be presumed that the controversy 
will never be renewed. A story, too, than an anony- 
mous, mysterious stranger commissioned Mozart to 
compose the Requiem, raised many idle conjectures, 
some of them of the most grossly superstitious kind. 
The matter, however, has latterly been very satis- 
factorily explained*. 

This illustrious composer, on whom nature be- 
stowed so much vigour of imagination, so little 
physical strength, never seemed destined to attain 
longevity. Slightly constructed, and feeble in con- 
stitution, he required more mental repose than his 
necessities would allow. His mind did not yield, 
but his body gave way, and on the 5th of Decem- 
ber, 1792, prematurely worn out, he expired tho- 
roughly exhausted, without any appearance of organic 

It has been said of Mozart that his knowledge 
was bounded by his art, and that, detached from this, 
he was little better than a nonentity. That his 
thoughts were almost wholly bent on music was not 
a matter of choice, but of necessity. Had not his 
misei'ably-remunerated labours occupied nearly all 
his time, his means would have been stilly more 
limited than they were. But we have reason to 
think (as we have elsewhere stated) that his ac- 
quirements were far greater than in England is 
generally believed ; in proof of which we have the 
best authority for saying, that once, at a court 
masquerade given at Vienna, Mozart appeared as a 
physician, and wrote prescriptions in Latin, French, 
Italian, and German ; in which not only an ac- 
quaintance with the several languages was shown, 
but great discernment of character, and considerable 
wit. Assuming this to be true, he could not have 
been a very ignorant man, nor always a dull one, 
* See Hannocicoa, vol. ir., page 102. 

MOZART. 469^ 

out of his profession. But still stronger evidence in 
favour of his understanding may be extracted from 
his works. That he who, in his operas, adapted his 
music with such felicity to the diiferent persons of 
the drama — who evinced such nicety of discrimina- 
tion — who represented the passions so accurately — 
who coloured so faithfully — whose music is so ex- 
pressive, that without the aid of words it is almost 
sufficient to render the scene in intelligible, — that 
such a man should not have been endowed with a 
high order of intellect is hard to be believed, but 
that his understanding should have been below 
mediocrity is incredible. 

Had Mozart lived, this country, which witnessed 
his early proofs of genius, would have enjoyed it in 
its matured and most luxuriant state. When Salo- 
mon, the celebrated violin player — an enterprising, 
liberal, sensible man — was about establishing his 
subscription-concerts in London, he went to Vienna 
to engage either Haydn or Mozart to compose sym- 
phonies for him, and after several " most amicable 
and pleasant meetings" (Salomon's own words) 
between the parties, it was agreed that Haydn should 
first proceed to the rich capital of the British do- 
minions, and that the following season he should be 
succeeded by Mozart. The illness and death of the 
latter rendered unavailing an arrangement which 
would at least have compensated his labours more 
adequately than they had ever before been rewarded. 
The father of modern orchestral music may be said 
to have made his fortune — a small one, it is true, 
but an independence — by his visits to London ; and 
the creator of an entirely new, an infinitely superior, 
style of dramatic music would hardly have been less 

The compositions of Mozart are of every kind, 
and so numerous that we cannot pretend to give 

VOL. III. 2 E 



even a bare list of them. But it may be obsen'ed, 
generally, that, from the sonata to the symphony, 
from the simplest romance to the most elaborate 
musical drama, he — whose career was stopped before 
he had completed his thirty-sixth year — composed 
in every imaginable stvle, and excelled in all. In 
each class he furnished models of the greatest at- 
tainable excellence : " exquisite melodies, profound 
harmonies, the pla^^ul, the tender, the pathetic, and 
the sublime," are to be found among his works. It 
is the exclusive privilege of first-rate merit to be 
more admired as it is better known ; and, while in- 
ferior composers enjoy their day of fashion, and are for- 
gotten, Mozart's fame will continue to expand in pro- 
portion as mankind advances in taste and knowledge. 


This eminent officer was descended from a younger 
branch of an ancient famih', long resident in the 
county of Somerset. His father Uved at Walton 
upon Thames, where George Brydges Rodney, after- 
wards Lord Rodney, was born, February 19, 1*718. 
He received the rudiments of his education at Harrow 
School, from which he was removed when only twelve 
years old, and sent to sea. He gained promotion 
rapidly, being made Lieutenant in February, 1739, 
and Captain in 1142. He was still farther fortunate 
in being almost constantly emjdoyed for several years. 
In the Eagle, of sixty guns, Captain Rodney bore a 
distinguished part in the action fought by Admiral 
Hawke with the French fleet, off Cape Finisterre, 
October 14, 1747. The year after he was sent out 
with the rank of Commodore, as Governor and Com- 
mander-in-Chief on the Newfoundland station, where 
he remained till October, 1752. 

Returning to England, he took his seat in Parlia- 
ment for the borough of Saltash, and was successively 
appointed to the Fougueux, of sixty-four guns, th 

2 E 2 

472 RODNEY. 

Prince George, of ninety, and the Dublin, of seventy- 
four guns. In the last-named ship he served under 
Admiral Hawke in the expedition against Rochefort 
in 1757, "svhich failed entirely, after great expense 
had been incurred, and great ex])ectations raised ; 
and he assisted at the capture of Louisburg by Ad- 
miral Boscawen in 1758. He was raised to the rank 
of Rear- Admiral, May 19, 1759, after twenty-eight 
years of active and almost uninterrupted service. 

In July following he was ordered to take the com- 
mand of a squadron destined to attack Havre, and 
destroy a number of flat-bottomed boats, prepared, it 
was supposed, to assist a meditated invasion of Great 
Britain. This service he effectually performed. 

He was soon raised to a more important sphere of 
action, being named Commander-in-Chief at Bar- 
badoes and the Leeward Islands, in the Autumn of 
1761. No naval achievement of remarkable bril- 
liance occurred during the short period of his holding 
this command : but the capture of the valuable islands 
of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Grenada, bears testi- 
mony to the efficiency of the fleet under his orders, 
and the good understanding between the land and sea 
forces employed in this service. He was recalled on 
the conclusion of peace in 1763. Eight years elapsed 
before he was again called into service ; a period 
fruitful in marks of favour from the crown, though 
barren of professional laurels. He was created a 
Baronet soon after his return ; he was raised by suc- 
cessive steps to the rank of Vice- Admiral of the Red ; 
and he was appointed Governor of Greenwich Hos- 
pital. This office he was required to resign on being 
again sent out to the West Indies as Commander-in- 
Chief at Jamaica in 1771. This was a period of 
profound peace : but the duties of peace are often 
more difficult, and require more moral courage for 
their discharge, than those of war. It is one of 

RODNEY. 473 

Rodney's best claims to distinction, that he suffered 
none under his command, or within the sphere of his 
influence, to neglect their duties with impunity ; and 
in the mode of carrying on naval affairs then prac- 
tised in the West Indies he found much ground for 
immediate interference, as well as for representation 
and remonstrance to his superiors at home. He 
earnestly desired to obtain the government of Ja- 
maica; but, on a vacancy occurring in 1773, another 
person was appointed; and he was recalled, and 
struck his flag at Portsmouth, September 4, 1774. 

The next four years of Sir George Rodney's life 
were much harassed by pecuniary embarrassment. 
The habits of a sailor's life are proverbially unsuited 
to strict economy ; and moving, when at home, in 
the most fashionable society of London, it is no won- 
der that his expenses outran his professional gains. 
He was compelled to retire to Paris, where he re- 
mained until the American war afforded a prospect 
of his being called into active service again. In May, 
1778, he was promoted to the rank of Admiral of the 
White: but it was not till the autumn of 1779 that 
he was gratified by being re-appointed to the com- 
mand on the Barbadoes station. He sailed from 
Plymouth December 29, to enter on the final and 
crowning scene of his glory. 

At this time Spain and France were at war with 
England. The memorable siege of Gibraltar was in 
progress, and a Spanish fleet blockaded the Straits. 
The British navy was reduced unwarrantably low in 
point of disposable force ; and was farther crippled 
by a spirit of disunion and jealousy among its officers, 
arising partly perhaps from the virulence of party 
politics, and partly from the misconduct of the Ad- 
miralty, which threatened even worse consequences 
than the mere want of physical force. By this spirit 
Sir George Rodney's fleet was deeply tainted, to his 

474 BODNET. 

great mortification and the great injury of the country. 
At first, however, everything appeared to prosper. 
The fleet consisted of twenty-two sail of the line, and 
eight frigates. Before Rodney had been at sea ten 
days, he captured seven Spanish vessels of war, with 
a large convoy of provisions and stores ; and on Ja- 
nuary 16, near Cape St. Vincent, afterwards made 
memorable by a more important action, he encoun- 
tered a Spanish fleet commanded by Don Juan de 
Langara, of eleven ships of the line and two frigates. 
The superiority of the British force rendered victory 
certain. Five Spanish ships were taken, and two 
destroyed ; and had not the action been in the night, 
and in tempestuous weather, probably every ship 
would have been captured. These at least are the 
reasons which Rodney gave in his dispatches for not 
having done more : in private letters he hints that he 
was ill supported by his captains. Trifling as this 
success would have seemed in later times, it was then 
very acceptable to the country ; and the Admiral re- 
ceived the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. 
The scandalous feeling of jealousy of their com- 
mander, ill-will to the ministry, or whatever other 
modification of party spirit it was, which could pre- 
vent brave men (and such they were) from perform- 
ing their duty to the utmost in the hour of battle, 
broke out again with more violence when Rodney 
next came within sight of the enemy. This was near 
Martinique, April 17, 1780, about a month after his 
arrival in the West Indies. The French fleet, com- 
manded by the Comte de Guichen, was slightly supe- 
rior in force. Rodney's intention was to attack the 
enemy's rear in close order and with his whole 
strength ; but his captains disobeyed his orders, de- 
ranged his plan, and, careless of the signals for close 
action repeatedly made, kept for the most part at 
cautious distance from the enemy. His own ship, 

KODNET. 475 

the SandwicK, engaged for an hour and a half a se- 
venty-four and two eighty-gun ships, compelled them 
to bear away, and broke completely through the 
enemy's line. Not more than five or six ships did 
their duty. Had all done it, the victory over De 
Grasse might have been anticipated, and the end of 
the war accelerated perhaps by two years. In his 
dispatches Rodney censured the conduct of his cap- 
tains ; but the Admiralty thought proper to suppress 
the passage. In his private letters to Lady Rodney 
he complains bitterly. One only of his captains was 
brought to trial, and he was broken. That ampler 
justice was not done on the delinquents is to be ex- 
plained by the difficulty of finding officers to form 
courts-martial, where almost all were equally guilty. 
But this partial severity, with the vigorous measures 
which the Admiral took to recall others to their duty, 
produced due efiect, and we hear no more of want of 
discipline, or reluctance to engage. For this action 
Rodney received the thanks of the House of Com- 
mons, with a pension for himself and his family of 
£2000 per annum. 

Nothing of importance occurred during the rest of 
the spring ; and De Guichen having returned to Eu- 
rope, Rodney sailed to New York, to co-operate, 
during the rainy season in the West Indies, with the 
British forces engaged in the American war. In 
November he returned to his station. In the course 
of the autumn he had been chosen to represent West- 
minster without expense, and had received the Order 
of the Bath. The commencement of the following 
year was signalised by acts of more importance. The 
British ministry had been induced to declare war 
against Holland ; and they sent out immediate in- 
structions to Rodney, to attack the possessions of the 
states in the West Indies. St. Eustatius was selected 
for the first blow, and it surrendered without firin"; a 

476 RODNEY. 

shot. Small and barren, yet this island was of great 
importance for the support which it had long aftbrded 
to the French and Americans under colour of neu- 
1 rality, and for the vast wealth which was captured 
in it. In the course of the spring, Demerara, Essc- 
quibo, and Berbice, with the French island of St. 
Bartholomew, were also taken. 

In the autumn Rodney returned to Europe for the 
recovery of his health. He was received with distin- 
guished favour by the King, and with enthusiasm by 
the people, and during his stay Avas created Vice- Ad- 
miral of Great Britain, in the place of Lord Hawke, 
deceased. He returned in the middle of January, 
being invested with the command of the whole West 
Indies, not merely the Barbadoes station, as before. 
The situation of affairs at this time was very critical. 
The French fleet, commanded by the Comte de 
Grasse, consisted of thirty-three sail* of the line, two 
fifty-gun ships and frigates, with a large body of 
troops, and a train of heavy cannon on board. A 
powerful Spanish fleet was also in the West Indies. 
It was intended to form a junction, and then, with an 
overwhelming force of near fifty sail of the line, to 
proceed to Jamaica, conquer that important island, 
and, one by one, to reduce all the British colonics. 

The French quitted Fort Royal Bay, in Martin- 
ique, April 8, 1782. Intelligence was immediately 
brought to the British fleet at St. Lucia, which lost no 
time in following them. In a partial action on the 
9th two of the French ships were disabled. A third 
was crippled by accident on the night of the 11th. 
Thus, on the morning of the 12th, the decisive day, 
the French line was reduced to thirty or thirty-one 
ships, and numerically the British fleet was stronger : 
but this difierence was more than compensated by the 

• Or thirty-four, according to the official list found on board the Ville 
de Paris after the engagement. 

RODNEY. 477 

greater weight of metal in the French broadside, 
which was calciilated by Sir Charles Douglas to have 
exceeded the British by 4396 pounds. On that morn- 
ing, about seven o'clock, Rodney bore down obliquely 
on the French line, and passed to leeward of it on the 
opposite tack. His own ship was the eighteenth from 
the van : and the seventeen leading ships having 
pushed on and taken their position each abreast of an 
enemy, Rodney, in the Formidable, broke through the 
line between the seventeenth and eighteenth ships, en- 
gaged the Ville de Paris, De Grasse's flag-ship, and 
compelled her to strike. The battle w^as obstinately 
fought, and lasted till half-past six in the evening. 
The loss of the British in killed and wounded was 
severe, but disproportionately less than that of the 
French. Seven ships of the line and two frigates 
fell into the hands of the victors. 

This battle ruined the power of the allied fleets in 
the West Indies, and materially contributed to the 
re-establishment of peace, which was concluded in 
January, 1783. Many other circumstances have 
combined to confer celebrity upon it. It restored to 
Britain the dominion of the ocean, after that dominion 
had been some time in abeyance ; it proved the com- 
mencement of a long series of most brilliant victories, 
untarnished by any defeat on a large scale ; and it was 
the lirst instance in which the manoeuvre of breaking 
through the enemy's line, and attacking him on both 
sides, had been practised. The question to whom 
the merit of this invention, which for many years 
rested with Lord Rodney, is due, has of late been 
much canvassed before the public. It has been 
claimed for Mr. Clerk, of Eldin, author of a treatise 
on Naval Tactics, and for Sir Charles Douglas, 
Captain of the Fleet, who served on board the Formi- 
dable, and is said to have suggested it, as a sudden 
thought, during the action. The claim of Mr. Clerk 

2 E 3 

478 RODNEY. 

appears now to be generally disallowed. The evidence 
in favour of each of the other parties is strong and 
conflicting ; and, as we have not space to discuss it, 
we may be excused for not expressing any opinion 
upon it. The claims of Sir Charles Douglas have 
been advanced by his son Sir Howard Douglas, in 
some recent publications : the opposite side of the 
question has been argued in the Quarterly Review, No. 
83. It has also been repeatedly discussed in the 
United Service Magazine. It would appear, however, 
at all events, that as the final judgment and responsi- 
bility rested with the Admiral, so also should the chief 
honour of the measure : and it is certain that the gallant 
and generous officer for whom this claim has been ad- 
vanced rejected all praise which seemed to him in the 
least to derogate from the glory of his commanding 

A change of ministry had taken place in the spring; 
and one of the first acts of the Whigs, on coming into 
office, was to recall Rodney, who had always been op- 
posed to them in politics. The officer appointed to 
succeed him had but just sailed, when news of his de- 
cisive and glorious victory arrived in England. The 
Admiralty sent an express, to endeavour to recall 
their unlucky step ; but it was too late. Rodney 
landed at Bristol, and closed his career of service, 
September 21, 1182. He was received with enthu- 
siasm, raised to the peerage by the title of Baron 
Rodney, and presented with an additional pension of 
i:^2000 per annum. From this time he lived chiefly 
in the country, and died May 23, 1192, in the 
seventy-fifth year of his age. He was twice married, 
and left a numerous family to inherit his well-earned 
honours and rewards. 

The life of Lord Rodney, published by General 
Mundy, is valuable, as containing much of his official 
and private correspondence. The former proves that 

RODNEY. 479 

his views as a Commander-in-Chief were enlarged, 
judicious, and patriotic; the latter is lively and aifec- 
tionate, and shows him to have been most amiable in 
domestic life. Memoirs of his life and principle 
actions will be found in most works on naval history 
and biography. 

[Monument of Loid Rodney ia St. Paul's Cathedral.l 


" Sir Joshua Reynolds," says Burke, " was the 
first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant 
arts to the other glories of his country." Without 
staying to inquire how far the literal truth of this 
assertion may be affected by the priority in date of 
Wilson and Hogarth, not to mention their less illus- 
trious predecessors, it may safely be affirmed, not 
only that Reynolds was the founder of the English 
school, but that the most valuable qualities in the art 
of painting were almost lost sight of throughout 
Europe when he begaji his career. In Holland, the 
rich manner of Rembrandt, feebly sustained by his 
imitators, had been succeeded by no less opposite a 
style than that of Vandersverf ; the still more laboured 


finish of Denner, a native of Hamburgh, followed ; 
while the minute perfection which was in vogue found 
a more legitimate application in the flower-pieces of 
Van Huysum. Reynolds was twenty-four years old 
at the decease of Denner, who had twice visited Lon- 
don, and had been much employed there. The 
French school about the middle of the last century 
took its tone from Boucher, a name now almost for- 
gotten, and, if remembered, synonymous with the 
extreme of affectation; he was principal painter to 
Louis XV. The native country of Claude and Poussin 
was indeed more illustrious during this time in the 
department of landscape, as Vernet produced his 
views of sea-ports about the period alluded to ; but 
this example, however respectable, was itself indi- 
cative of a declining taste, and the style of view- 
painting in the hands of the foreign artists who prac- 
tised it in Italy, with the Prussian Hackert at their 
head, had the effect of extinguishing for a time all 
invention in landscape. The academy at Berlin was 
under the direction of a Frenchman ; Oeser was the 
greatest name at Leipzic and Dresden ; and the south 
of Germany still imported imitations of the latest 
Italian styles in fashion. The state of the arts in 
Spain may be judged of by the fact, that when, in 
1761, Mengs, who was himself a native of Germany, 
repaired to Madrid in the service of Charles III., the 
chief painters established there were a Venetian and 
a Neapolitan, Tiepolo and Corrado Giaquinto. The 
Venetian school, sometimes entirely losing its original 
character, seemed at least to maintain a consistent 
degeneracy in the styles of Sebastian Ricci and the 
above-named Giambattista Tiepolo, both weak and 
mannered imitators of Paul Veronese, but still pre- 
serving, at least the latter, some brilliancy of colour 
and pleasing execution. With Tiepolo the charac- 
teristic merits of the school seem however to have 


ceased altogether : towards the latter part of the cen- 
tury, the chief employment of the Venetian painters 
was the restoration of old pictures.* A particular 
school was established in 1718 for this purpose, and 
a description of the extraordinary labours of the artists 
is preserved in the thirty-eighth volume of Groethe's 
works. In Rome, the talents of Maratta and Sacchi, 
and " the great but abused powers of Pietro da Cor- 
tona " had been succeeded by feebler efforts, descend- 
ing or fluctuating through the styles of Cignani, Tre- 
visani, and others, till the time of Sebastian Conca, 
and Pompeo Battoni. The last-named was approach- 
ing the zenith of his short-lived reputation, and almost 
without a rival (for Mengs was as yet young, and 
Conca already aged), when Reynolds visited Rome. 

Laborious detail on the one hand, and empty faci- 
lity on the other, formed the distinguishing charac- 
teristics of these different schools ; but however 
opposite in execution, mind was alike wanting in 
both. Denner may be considered the representative 
of the microscopic style — a style, if it deserves the 
name, which he applied even to heads the size of 
life; and as mere finish never was, and probably 
never will be carried to a more absurd length, his 
name, though comparatively obscure, marks an epoch 
in the art. The same scrupulous minuteness ob- 
tained about the same time in landscape ; among the 
view-painters, Heudrick Van Lint, surnamed Studio, 
may be named as the most remarkable of his class. 
Reynolds alludes to him in one of his discourses, as 
noted, when he knew him in Rome, for copying every 
leaf of a tree. The opposite style, which aimed at 
quantity and rapidity, was derived from the expert 
painters of galleries and ceilings, called " Machi- 
nisti," and more immediately from Luca Giordano. 

• It is worlliy of remark, that about tlie same time the sculptors in 
Rome were as exclusively employed ia restoriog anticjue statues. 


Facility and dispatch, at the expense of every solid 
c}uality of art,' were the characteristics of the school 
which was represented in the earlier part of Rey- 
nolds's career, principally by Sebastian Conca in 
Italy, and by Corrado Giaquinto in Spain. 

The changes which took place in this state of 
things, towards the latter part of the century, may be 
traced partly to the renewed appreciation of the 
antique statues (a taste whicli, however beneficial to 
sculpture, had an unfortunate influence on the sister 
art), and subsequently to political circumstances. 
The fluctuations of taste, however deliberately esti- 
mated by retrospective criticism, are indeed generally 
the result of accident, and depend on causes but sel- 
dom derived from a just definition of the nature and 
object of art. It appears, however, that Reynolds, 
alone as he was, the founder rather than the follower 
of a school, enjoyed the rare privilege of making the 
taste of his time instead of being made by it ; and 
although it would be absurd to suppose that he could 
be independent of the accidents with which he was 
brought in contact, it will not appear, upon a candid 
inquiry, that this great artist was in any respect 
directly influenced by the practice of his age. 

Joshua Reynolds was born at Plympton, near Ply- 
mouth, in Devonshire, July 16, 1723; he was the 
son of the Rev. Samuel Reynolds, who taught the 
grammar school of Plympton. The young artist's 
fondness for drawing manifested itself early, and at 
eight years of age he had become so well acquainted 
with the " Jesuits' Perspective," as to apply its prin- 
ciples with some effect in a drawing of his father's 
school, a building elevated on stone pillars. Among 
other books connected with art to which he had access, 
Richardson's 'Treatise on Painting' had a power- 
ful eff"ect in exciting his ambition. The earliest 
known picture he attempted is a portrait of the Rev. 


Thomas Smart, who was the vicar of Maker, the 
parish in which Mount Edgecumhe is situated. 
Reynolds, then a school-boy about twelve years of 
age, sketched the portrait of the vicar at church, and 
afterwards copied it on canvass. This picture is 
now in the possession of John Boger, Esq., of East 
Stonehouse, near Plymouth. The taste of tlie young 
painter becoming every day more decided, his father, 
urged by the advice of some friends, placed him at 
the age of seventeen as a pupil with Hudson, who 
had at that time the chief business in portrait painting, 
although a very indifferent artist. In 1743 Reynolds 
returned to Devonshire, in consequence of a disagree- 
ment with his master, and set up as a portrait painter 
in the town of Plymouth Dock, since called Devon- 
port. He here painted various portraits, chiefly of 
naval officers. One of these works, containing the 
portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Eliot and family, is in the 
possession of the Earl of St. Germains. The compo- 
sition of this picture — the artist's first attempt at a 
group — approaches the pyramidal form; and Rey- 
nolds, after contemplating it when finished, observed, 
" I see I must have read something about a pyramid, 
for there it is." Six other pictures of the artist are 
preserved in the same collection, at Port Eliot in 
Cornwall. An admirable picture of a boy reading by 
a reflected light was also executed about this time. 
Many interesting works of Reynolds, some of them 
belonging to his earlier practice, are preserved in the 
immediate neighbourhood of Plymouth, in the collec- 
tions of the Earl of ^Morley, Mr. Pole Carew of 
Antony, Mr. Rosdew of Beechwood, Mr. Lane of 
Coffleet, and others. The artist's early works, 
although sometimes carelessly drawn, are distin- 
guished by breadth of colour, by freedom of handling, 
and not imfrequently by great truth of expression : in 
short, he seems to have contracted none of the defects 


of Hudson, except, according to some of his bio- 
graphers, a certain stiffness and sameness in the atti- 
tudes of his portraits ; defects which he afterwards 
exchanged for such grace, spirit, and, above all, end- 
less variety, that it was said " his inventions will be 
the future grammar of portrait painters." The 
earliest portrait he painted of himself is in the col- 
lection of Mr. Gwatkin of Plymouth, who married a 
niece of Reynolds : the same gentleman also pos- 
sesses the last portrait of the artist by himself, toge- 
ther with many other interesting specimens of his 
pencil. In 1747 Reynolds repaired again to London, 
and took lodgings in St. Martin's Lane, then and 
long afterwards the favourite residence of artists. In 
1749 he sailed to the Mediterranean, by the invita- 
tion, and in the company of Captain (afterwards Lord) 
Keppel. Reynolds spent two months in Minorca, 
where he painted several portraits of military and 
naval officers, and proceeded thence, by way of Leg- 
horn, to Rome. 

He was fully alive to the sources of inspiration 
which this city of the arts contained. In the midst 
of his enthusiasm, however, he was secretly humiliated 
by discovering in himself an absence of all relish for 
the grand works of Rafl'aelle in the Vatican. Richard- 
son had inspired him with the most exalted admiration 
of RafFaelle ; and whatever may be supposed, Rey- 
nolds could not be entirely unacquainted with the 
subjects and designs of the works alluded to. Indeed, 
in some notes of his own that have been preserved, he 
only confesses a feeling of disappointment, and after- 
wards says, " In justice to myself, however, I must 
add, that though disappointed and mortified at not 
finding myself enraptured with the works of this 
great master, I did not for a moment conceive or sup- 
pose that the name of RafFaelle, and these admirable 
paintings in particular, owed their reputation to the 


ignorance and prejudice of mankind : on the con- 
trary, my not relishing them, as . I was conscious I 
ought to have done, was one of the most humiliating 
circumstances that ever happened to me. I found 
myself in the midst of works executed upon principles 
with which I was unacquainted ; I felt my ignorance, 
and stood abashed; all the indigested notions of 
painting which I had brought with me from England, 
where art was in the lowest state it had ever been in 
(indeed it could not be lower), were to be totally done 
away and eradicated from my mind." The union of 
candour and docility with good sense, which the 
above accomit evinces, was the means of emancipating 
Reynolds from the taste or fashion of the day. In- 
stead [of enrolling himself among the scholars of 
Pompeo Battoni, as he was strongly recommended to 
do before his departure from England by his kind 
patron Lord Edgecumbe, he endeavoured during the 
practice of his art to penetrate the principles on which 
the great works around him, particularly those of 
Michael Angelo and Raffaelle, were produced. His 
general theory will be found embodied in his writings, 
and if his principles sometimes appear to be pushed 
too far, we may perhaps attribute it to the wish to 
counteract certain prevailing errors among his con- 
temporaries. It is a general notion that, considering 
the difference in style between the paintings of Rey- 
nolds and those of the great models he professes to 
admire (Michael Angelo received his more especial 
homage), he could not have been sincere in acknow- 
ledging so thorough a conviction of their excellence. 
To decide fairly on this difficult and often-discussed 
point, it is necessary to remember the state of the arts 
when Reynolds formed his style. The great vice of 
the age was a routine practice, seldom informed by 
any reference to the general nature of the art, and as 
. little remarkable for a just discrimination of its 


various styles. In such a state of things it cannot 
excite surprise that a sagacious and unprejudiced 
mind, in endeavouring to retrace the leading prin- 
ciples of the art, should at the same time see the 
necessity of modifying them in their application to a 
particular, and in some respects a limited, depart- 
ment. As portrait painting, the imitation of in- 
dividuals, was to be Reynolds's chief occupation, it 
certainly did not occur to him that the abstract repre- 
sentations of Michael Angelo, or even of Raffaelle, 
could be fit models for him to follow, as far as execu- 
tion was concerned. He saw, however, that these 
masters were probably right even in this respect, 
when the dignity and purity of their aim, and when 
subject, place, and dimensions are duly considered. 
His imitation of them therefore began when he endea- 
voured to define the end and object of the particular 
style of art which he himself professed ; and although 
he soon concluded that it required a widely difierent 
treatment, he failed not to translate, if we may so say, 
the causes of the grandeur he admired into the lan- 
guage which belonged to his own department. What 
he considered the distinctive and desirable requisites 
of portrait painting to consist in, may be best learnt 
from his own works. In the first place, the more 
delicate refinements of colouring and chiaro-scuro, by 
no means essential in the grander and more abstract 
department of the art, are indispensable where the 
imitation is confined to a single and generally a de- 
fective person. It is thus that Rembrandt made up 
the sum of beauty by the fascinations of gradation and 
contrast, while the forms he had to deal with were 
often of the most ordinary description. The just 
imitation of the colour of flesh, the most beautiful and 
at the same time the most nameless hue in nature, has 
ever been considered the triumph of imitative art, and 
confers value and dignity on the work wherever it is 


fully accomplished. Again, it must be remembered 
that the domain of expression begins with the acci- 
dents of form ; that it belongs to and often recom- 
mends individuality and redeems deformity ; and that 
its vivid interest is to be sought less in the abstract 
personifications of Michael Angelo, far less in the 
higher region of beauty which the Greeks justly placed 
above the atmosphere of the passions, than in the 
varieties of accidental nature. Reynolds seized on 
the delicacies of expression as strictly harmonising 
with the individual forms he had to copy ; and, while 
thus adding a charm to his class of art, he became at 
the same time the abler portrait painter ; for the cha- 
racter and expression of the individual are the chief 
points which are demanded. Lastly, the conduct and 
execution of his pictures were in strict conformity 
with the same principles, and may be said to have 
been dictated by the largest view of the nature and 
means of the art. 

In his works the attention is always attracted by 
the important objects, or diverted from them, when 
diverted, only to conceal the artifice which thus com- 
mands the eye of the spectator. It is evident that the 
general degree of completeness will depend on that of 
the principal object ; and assuming that Reynolds's 
style of painting a head was sufficiently elaborate (it 
is generally less so than Vandyck's), the un finish of 
the accessories could hardly be otherwise than it is 
consistently with due subordination. The truth of 
this consistency of style was ultimately acknowledged, 
and although so opposite from what had before been 
in fashion, and so different in many respects from 
what the vulgar admire, the pictures of Reynolds soon 
won the favour of the public. If the admiration of 
his works had any ill effect, it was that it tended to 
produce an imitation of the same mode rather than of 
the same consistency. 


On his return to England in 1152, which has heen 
somewhat anticipated in the foregoing remarks on his 
style, Reynolds repaired to his native county, and 
painted one or two pictures at Plymouth : perhaps the 
earliest of the fine portraits of Mr. Zachary Mudge, 
Vicar of St. Andrews, was one of these. He returned 
to London accompanied by his sister Frances. For a 
short time he again occupied lodgings in St. Martin's 
Lane, and produced there the portrait of Giuseppe 
Marchi, an Italian whom he had brought home as an 
assistant. This picture, which was in the style of 
Rembrandt, attracted general admiration ; and when 
his former master Hudson saw it, he exclaimed, stung 
with jealousy, " Reynolds, you don't paint so well as 
when you left England !" Soon after this, in conse- 
quence of his increased fame and employment, Rey- 
nolds took a house in Great Newport Street, where he 
resided for some years. The whole-length portrait of 
Admiral Keppel was the next work of importance 
which he produced : it exhibited such powers that it 
completely established the fame of the artist, and he 
was generally acknowledged to be the greatest painter 
England had seen since the time of Vandyck. From 
this period his career was one of uninterrupted success 
and improvement ; for his reputation was never greater 
than at the close of his laborious life. The detraction 
which such extraordinary merit soon excited was com- 
pelled to vent itself in attempting to undervalue the 
department of art in which he excelled : in conse- 
quence of these insinuations, a defence of portrait 
painting, from the pen of Dr. Johnson, appeared in 
the forty- fifth number of the Idler. Johnson in that 
essay, after all, only proved that portrait painting is 
interesting to a feiv — that in the hands of Reynolds 
it was " employed in diffusing friendship, in renewing 
tenderness, in quickening the affections of the absent, 
and continuing the presence of the dead." Reynolds 


himself, however, without forgetting these important 
prerogatives, evidently took a more extended view of 
the matter ; he seems early to have felt that the chief 
difficulty of portrait painting (a difficulty perhaps 
greater than any in the other branches of art) is to 
make the representation generally interesting. It is 
quite obvious that this end can only be attained (espe- 
cially as beauty of form is not always at command) 
by a high degree of perfection in all that constitutes 
the charm of art ; for no interest that attaches itself to 
the individual pourtrayed, however celebrated, can be 
so universal or so independently intelligible as that 
which arises from a large and true imitation of nature, 
to which all are more or less alive. The perfection of 
art, as applicable to portrait painting, was therefore 
Reynolds's great object, and it was only in subservience 
to this that he ventured to introduce what in his hands 
might be considered a novelty in this department. That 
novelty was the historic air he often gave liis portraits, 
by happy allusions to some important circumstance in 
the life of the individual. His consummate know- 
ledge of effect enabled him to do this by means which 
never interfere with tlie mere portrait, a difficulty 
which had been in a great measure evaded by preced- 
ing painters. It will be remembered that in most of 
the portraits even of Titian and Vandyck the attention 
is literally confined to the individual pourtrayed (after 
all, the subject of the picture), and it was not lightly 
or inconsiderately that Reynolds occasionally departed 
from this judicious practice. If ever a painter could 
depend on the mere character and expression of his 
heads, to say nothing of the charm of their execution, 
Reynolds undoubtedly would have been secure of the 
public approbation on those groxnids alone; and it was 
only where historic interest happened to coincide or to 
interfere but little with picturesque effect, that he ven- 
tured on the additions alluded to. A better instance 


perhaps cannot be given than the 'portrait of Lord 
Heathfield (celebrated for his defence of Gibraltar), 
in the National Gallery ; in the back-ground of which 
a cannon pointed downwards indicates, by its angle 
of depression, the elevation of the spot where the 
veteran stands, grasping the keys of the fortress which 
he defended so bravely. In his allegorical portraits, 
such as Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, Mrs. 
Siddons as the Tragic Muse, &c., Reynolds encoun- 
tered a much greater difficulty, and it may be ques- 
tioned whether any painter who has yet appeared 
would have succeeded better. The mixture of real 
and imaginary beings, of individual and abstract per- 
sonifications, the treatment of which would seem to 
require so different a style, was so managed by Rey- 
nolds as to satisfy, in this respect, the most fastidious 
taste. The secret of the greatness of his style in these 
subjects, and indeed in most of his portraits, is to be 
sought in his colouring, the idea of which is large 
and general ; and under its dignified influence the 
individuality of forms and locality of dress are ren- 
dered with all sufficient fidelity without offending. It 
is thus we find in many Venetian, Flemish, and Dutch 
pictures, where the subject and forms are most homely, 
an air of refined taste, and even of grandeur, which 
seems unaccountable, till we discover that the colouring 
is true to the largest idea of nature ; and thus, to a 
certain extent, the art is raised by raising its charac- 
teristic quality. In short, to return to the question of 
hisjimitation of Michael Angelo, we shoiild find that, 
keeping the main requisites and attainable excellences 
of portrait painting in view, Reynolds contrived to 
infuse into it as mvich elevation as was calculated to 
improve it without injuring its character ; and when 
we find that he applied this even to execution, and 
that his breadth of manner, his disdain of non-essen- 
tials, is evidently inspired by the same feeling, we 


shall no longer wonder at his admiration of the highest 
style of art, or doubt the sincerity of his recorded pro- 
fessions on the subject. The very indirectness of his 
imitation, in which the whole mystery lies, so sure a 
proof of his having penetrated the principle of the 
great master, establishes his claim to originality as 
well as to consummate judgment and taste. 

In 1768 the Royal Academy was instituted, and 
Mr. Reynolds, holding unquestionably the first rank 
in his profession, was elected President. On his 
elevation to this office he received the honour of 
knighthood. As President he delivered to the students 
and professors those celebrated discourses which have 
reflected so much lustre on his name. Their excellence 
in a theoretical point of view, the elegance of their 
composition, and on the other hand the apparent con- 
tradictions they sometimes contain, have been the 
theme of frequent observation and discussion. The 
other writings of Sir Joshua are the ' Tour to Flanders 
and Holland,' consisting of notes on the paintings seen 
by him in those countries in the year 1781 ; ' Notes 
on Du Fresnoy's Poem ;' and three papers in the 
Idler. Among the last, the Essay on Beauty was not 
so original as is generally supposed, the same theory 
having been previously promulgated by the Pere 
Buffier in his ' Cours des Sciences par des principes 
nouveaux. Paris, 1732.' Among the historical and 
mythological pictures produced by Sir Joshua, that of 
the Infant Hercules strangling the Serpents, executed 
in 1786 for the Empress of Russia, is one of the most 
considerable : it is pretty closely copied, as to invention 
and composition, from a description of an antique 
painting of the same subject in Philostratus. This 
work, so diffierent from the taste of the Russian painters 
and connoisseurs, was long treated with neglect ; but 
in consequence of the inquiries of English travellers 
it has lately been cleaned, and placed in the gallery 


of the Hermitage. It is said to be in a fine state of 
preservation, and one of the best works of Reynolds. 
The celebrated picture of Ugolino was produced by 
an accidental circumstance. The subject was sug- 
gested to Sir Joshua by Goldsmith, or, according to 
others, by Burke, who was struck with the expression 
of an old emaciated head, among the unfinished stu- 
dies of the painter, and observed that it corresponded 
exactly with Dante's description of Count Ugolino. 
The head was inserted in a larger canvass, and the 
rest of the composition added. For the Shakspeare 
Gallery Sir Joshua painted three pictures, — the Death 
of Cardinal Beaufort, the Cauldron Scene in Macbeth, 
and Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream. The 
designs for the window of the New College Chapel 
in Oxford are among the finest of his sacred compo- 

In 1789, finding his eyesight begin to fail. Sir 
Joshua was compelled to give up the practice of his 
art. In December, 1790, he pronounced his farewell 
Address at the Royal Academy, and on that occasion 
repeated and confirmed, as with his dying voice, his 
admiration of Michael Angelo. His infirmities con- 
fined him much during the short remaining portion of 
his life, and he died at his house in Leicester Fields, 
February 23, 1792. He was buried in the crypt of 
the cathedral of St. Paul, near the tomb of Sir Chris- 
topher Wren. The honours of his funeral, as may 
be imagined, corresponded with his justly-earned 
fame ; and the day after his death a well-known eulo- 
gium by Burke appeared in the public papers, so cha- 
racteristic both of the writer and the gi-eat artist to 
whose memory it was dedicated, that it was called the 
panegyric of Apelles pronounced by Pericles. It 
concludes thus : — " His talents of every kind, powerful 
from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters, his 
social virtues in all the relations and all the habitudes 

VOL. III. 2 F 



of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and 
unparalleled variety of agreeable societies, which will 
be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit 
not to excite some jealousy, too much innocence to 
provoke any enmity. The loss of no man of his time 
can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed 


For a list of the pictures of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
and ample details of his life, the memoir of him by 
Nortbcote, who had been his scholar, may be con- 
sulted ; as well as the accounts prefixed to the various 
editions of his literary works ; and that by Allan Cun- 
ningham, in his ' Lives of the most eminent British 
Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.' 

2 F 2 


John Smeaton will long be remembered as one of 
the most laborious and most successful civil engineers 
whom Britain has produced; a class to which our 
country is deeply indebted for its commercial great- 
ness. He was born at Austhorpe, near Leeds, May 
28, 1 724. His father was an attorney, and intended 
to bring his son up to his own profession : but the 
latter finding, to use his own words, " that the law 
did not suit the bent of his genius," obtained his 
parent's consent that he should seek a more congenial 

From a very early age he had shown great fondness 
for mechanical occupations. " His playthings," it is 
said by one long acquainted with him, "were not 
the playthings of children, but the tools men work 
with ; and he appeared to have greater entertainment 
in seeing the men in the neighbourhood work, and 
asking them questions, than in any thing else." At 
the age of eighteen he was in the habit of forging iron 


and steel, and melting metal for his own use ; and he 
possessed tools of every sort for working in wood, 
ivory, and metal. Some of these were of his own 
construction; and among them an engine for rose- 
turning, and a lathe by which he had cut a perpetual 
screw, a thing little known at that time. 

In the year 1750 he established himself in the 
Great Turnstile in Holborn, as a philosophical in- 
strument-maker. While he followed this trade, he 
became known to the scientific circles by several 
ingenious inventions ; among which were a new kind 
of magnetic compass, and a machine for measuring a 
ship's way at sea. He was elected fellow of the 
Royal Society in 1153, and contributed several pa- 
pers to the Philosophical Transactions, one of which, 
entitled 'An Experimental Enquiry concerning the 
natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and 
other machines, depending on circular motion,' ob- 
tained the gold medal in 1759. 

In 1755 the Eddystone light-house was destroyed 
by fire. At this time Smeaton had never practised as 
an architect or engineer. But the proprietors, to use 
his own words, " considered that to reinstate it would 
require, not so much a person who had been merely 
bred, or who had rendered himself eminent in this or 
that given profession, but rather one who from natural 
genius had a turn for contrivance in the mechanical 
branches of science." Thinking thus, they applied 
to the President of the Royal Society to recommend 
a fitting person, and he without hesitation named 
Smeaton. We shall speak hereafter of the difficulties 
which attended this work, and the method of its 
execution ; the nature of it is familiar to every 
reader. Two light-houses had been destroyed within 
half a century : his own, after the lapse of seventy- 
three years, stands unimpaired ; — a proud monument 
pf the power q{ man to overcome the elements. This 

2 f3 


building was finished in 1759, and established his 
reputation as a civil engineer : but it was some time 
before he devoted his attention solely to practising in 
that capacity. In 1764 he was appointed one of the 
Receivers of the Greenwich Hospital Estates, and in 
the discharge of his duty, he suggested various im- 
provements which were of material service to the 
property. He resigned that office about 1777, in 
consequence of the increase of his other business. In 
176^ he was employed to furnish designs for new 
light-houses at the Spurn Head, at the mouth of the 
Humber, and after considerable delay, was appointed 
Surveyor of the Works in 1771. These were com- 
pleted in April, 1777. Among other undertakings 
he repaired and improved the navigation of the river 
Calder; he built the bridge over the Tay, at Perth, 
and some others on the Highland road, north of 
Inverness; he laid out the line, and superintended 
the execution of a considerable portion of the great 
canal connecting the Forth and Clyde. His high 
reputation was shown shortly after the two centre 
arches of old London bridge had been thrown into 
one. The foundations of the piers were discovered 
to be damaged, and the danger of the bridge was 
esteemed so imminent that few persons would venture 
to pass over it. The opinions of the architects on 
the spot were deemed unsatisfactory ; and Smeaton, 
being at the time in Yorkshire, was summoned by 
express, to say what should be done. He found that 
the increased volume of water passing through the 
centre arch had undermined the piers ; and removed 
the danger by the simple expedient, the success of 
which he had proved on the river Calder, of throw- 
ing in a large quantity of rough stones about them. 
The interstices of the heap soon are filled up by 
sand and mud, and the whole is consolidated almost 
into one mass, and forms a secure and lasting barrier. 


The best known of Smeaton's works, after the Eddy- 
stone light-house, is the magnificent pier and har- 
bour of Ramsgate. This undertaking was com- 
menced in 1149, and prosecuted for some time with 
very imperfect success. In 1174 Smeaton was called 
in ; and he continued to superintend the progress of 
the works till their completion in 1191, The har- 
bour is now enclosed by two piers, the eastern nearly 
2000, the western 1500 feet in length, and aflFords a 
safe and a much needed refuge to ships lying in the 
Downs, even of five and six hundred tons, which 
before, when driven from their anchors by stress of 
weather, were almost certain to be cast ashore and 

It would be vain to enumerate all the projects in 
which he was consulted, or the schemes which he 
executed. The variety and extent of his employ- 
ments may be best estimated from his Reports, of 
which a complete collection has been published by 
the Society of Civil Engineers, in consequence of the 
liberality of Sir Joseph Banks, who had purchased, 
and presented them to the Society for this purpose. 
They fill three quarto volumes, and constitute a 
most interesting and valuable series of treatises on 
every branch of engineering; as draining, bridge- 
building, making and improving canals and navigable 
rivers, planning docks and harbours, the improvement 
of mill-work, and the application of mechanical im- 
provements to difierent manufactures. His papers 
in the Philosophical Transactions are published 
separately, and fill another quarto volume. They 
contain descriptions of those early inventions which 
we have mentioned, and of an improved air-pump, 
and a new hygrometer and pyrometer ; together with 
his treatise on Mill-work, and some papers which 
show that he was fond of the science of astronomy, 
and practically skilled iu it. 


His health began to decline alwut 1*785, and he 
endeavoured to withdraw from business, and to de- 
vote his attention to publishing an account of his 
own inventions and works ; for, as he often said, 
'' he thought he could not render so much service to 
his country as by doing that." He succeeded in 
bringing out his elaborate account of the Eddystone 
Light-house, published in 1791. But he found it 
impossible to withdraw entirely from business ; and 
it appears that over-exertion and anxiety did actually 
bring on an attack of paralysis, to which his family 
were constitutionally liable. He was taken ill at his 
residence at Austhorpe, in September, 1*192, and died 
October 28, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. He 
had long looked to this disease as the probable ter- 
mination of his life, and felt some anxiety concern- 
ing the likelihood of out-living his faculties, and in 
his own w ords, of " lingering over the dregs after the 
spirit had evaporated." This calamity was sp^ired 
him : in the interval between his first attack and his 
death, his mind was unclouded, and he continued to 
take his usual interest in the occupations of his 
domestic circle. Sometimes only he W'ould complain, 
with a smile of his slowness of apprehension, and say, 
"It cannot be otherwise: the shadow must lengthen 
as the sun goes down." 

His character was marked by undeviating upright- 
ness, industry, and moderation in pursuit of riches. 
His gains might have been far larger ; but he relin- 
quished more than one appointment which brought 
in a considerable income, to devote his attention to 
other objects which he had more at heart ; and he 
declined the magnificent offers of Catherine II. of 
Russia, who would have bought his services at any 
price. His industry was unwearied, and the distribu- 
tion of his hours and employments strictly laid down 
by rule. In his family and by his friends he was 


singularly beloved, though his demeanour sometimes 
appeared harsh to strangers. A brief, but very 
interesting and affectionate account of him, written 
by his daughter, is prefixed to his Reports, from 
which many of the anecdotes here related have been 

Of the many great undertakings in which Smeaton 
was engaged, the most original, and the most cele- 
brated, is the Eddystone light-house. The reef of 
rocks known by the name of the Eddystone lies about 
nine miles and a half from the Ram Head, at the 
entrance of Plymouth Sound, exposed to the full 
swell of the Atlantic, which, with a very moderate 
gale, breaks upon it with the utmost fury. The situa- 
tion, directly between the Lizard and Start points, 
makes it of the utmost importance to have a light- 
house on it; and in 1698 Mr. Winstanley succeeded 
in completing one. This stood till 1703, but was 
entirely carried away in the memorable storm of 
November 26, in that year. It chanced, by a singular 
coincidence, that shortly before, on a doubt of the 
stability of the building being uttered, the architect 
expressed himself so entirely satisfied on that point, 
that " he should only wish to be there in the greatest 
storm that ever blew under the face of the heavens." 
He was gratified in his wish; and perished with 
every person in the building. This building was 
chiefly, if not wholly of timber. In 1706 Mr. 
Rudyerd commenced a new light-house, partly of 
stone and partly of wood, which stood till 1755, 
when it was burnt down to the very rock. Warned 
by this accident, Smeaton resolved that his should 
be entirely of stone. He spent much time in con- 
sidering the best methods of grafting his work 
securely on the solid rock, and giving it the form 
best suited to secure stability ; and one of the most 
interesting parts of his interesting account is that in 
which he narrates how he was led to choose the 


shape which he adopted, hy considering tlie means 
employed by Nature to produce stabiUty in her works. 
The building is modelled on the trunk of an oak, 
which spreads out in a sweeping curve near the 
roots, so as to give breadth and strength to its base, 
diminishes as it rises, and again swells out as it 
approaches to the bushy head, to give room for the 
strong insertion of the principal boughs. The latter 
is represented by a curved cornice, the effect of which 
is to throw off the heavy seas, which being suddenly 
checked fly up, it is said, from fifty to a hundred feet 
above the very top of the building, and thus to pre- 
vent their striking the lantern, even when they seem 
entirely to enclose it. The efficacy of this construc- 
tion is such, that after a storm and spring-tide of 
unequalled violence in 1762, in which the greatest 
fears were entertained at Plymouth for the safety of 
the light-house, the only article requisite to repair it 
was a pot of putty, to replace some that had been 
washed from the lantern. 

To prepare a fit base for the reception of the co- 
lumn, the shelving rock was cut into six steps, which 
were filled up with masonry, firmly dovetailed, and 
pinned with oaken trenails to the living stone, so that 
the upper course presented a level circular surface. 
This part of the work was attended with the greatest 
difficulty ; the rock being accessible only at low 
water, and in calm weather. The building is faced 
with the Cornish granite, called in the country moor- 
stone ; a material selected on account of its durability 
and hardness, which bids defiance to the depredations 
of marine animals, which have been known to do 
serious injury by perforating Portland stone when 
placed under water. The interior is built of Portland 
stone, which is more easily obtained in large blocks, 
and is less expensive in the working. It is an in- 
structive lesson, not only to the young engineer, but 
to all persons, to see the diligence which Sraeaton 


used to ascertain what kind of stone was best fitted 
for his purposes, and from what materials the firmest 
and most lasting cement could be obtained. He well 
knew that in novel and great undertakings no pre- 
caution can be deemed superfluous which may con- 
tribute to success ; and that it is wrong to trust 
implicitly to common methods, even where experi- 
ence has shown tliem to be suflBcient in common 
cases. For the height of twelve feet from the rock 
the building is solid. Every course of masonry is 
composed of stones firmly jointed and dovetailed 
into each other, and secured to the course below by 
joggles, or solid plugs of stone, which being let into 
both, effectually resist the lateral pressure of the 
waves, which tends to push off the upper from the 
under course. The interior, which is accessible by a 
moveable ladder, consists of four rooms, one over the 
other, surmounted by a glass lantern, in which the 
lights are placed. The height from the lowest point 
of the foundation to the floor of the lantern is seventy 
feet; the height of the lantern is twenty-one feet 
more. The building was commenced August 3, 
1756, and finished October 8, 1759; and having 
braved uninjured the storms of seventy-three winters, 
is likely long to remain a monument almost as ele- 
gant, and far more useful, than the most splendid 
column ever raised to commemorate imperial victories. 
Its erection forms an era in the history of light- 
houses, a subject of great importance to a maritime 
nation. It came perfect from the mind of the artist, 
and has left nothing to be added or improved. After 
such an example no accessible rock can be considered 
impracticable : and in the more recent erection of a 
light-house on the dangerous Bell-rock, lying off the 
coast of Forfarshire, between the Frith of Tay and 
the Frith of Forth, which is built exactly in the same 
manner, and almost on the same model, we see the 



best proof of the value of an impulse, such as was 
given to this subject by Smeaton. 

[Liglit housei of (1) Winstanley, (2) Smeaton, and (3) Kudycrd,] . 


A LIFE and character like that of John Hunter has 
many claims upon the honourable remembrance of 
society ; the more, because, for meritorious members 
of his profession, there is no other public reward than 
the general approbation of good men. We look upon 
him with that interest which genius successfully di- 
rected to good ends invariably excites ; as one whose 
active labours in the service of mankind have been 
attended with useful consequences of great extent; 
and whose character it is important to describe cor- 
rectly, as a valuble example to his profession. 

John Hunter was the son of a small proprietor in 
the parish of Kilbride in Lanarkshire, and was born 
February 13, 1728. His father died while he was 
a child; his brothers were absent from home ; and, 

VOL. III. 2 G 


being left to the care of his mother and aunt, he was 
spoiled by indulgence, and remained uneducated, 
until his uatural good sense urged him to redeem 
himself in some degree from this reproach. When a 
boy he continued to cry like a child for whatever 
he wanted. There is a letter extant from an old 
friend of the family, which has this curious post- 
script, *' Is Johnny aye greeting yet ? " presenting an 
unexpected picture to those who are familiar only 
with the manly sense, and somewhat caustic manners, 
of the great physiological and surgical authority. But 
the influence of feelings and opinions, proceeding 
from respected persons, and accompanied by offices 
of affection, is powerful upon the young mind ; and 
the circumstances of Mr. Hunter's family were cal- 
culated to give such feelings their full power over 
such a character as his. They lived retired, in that 
state of independence which a small landed property 
confers on the elder members, while the young men 
are compelled to seek their fortunes at a distance 
firom home. John Hunter neglected books, but he 
was not insensible to the pride and gratification ex- 
pressed by every member of the family on hearing of 
his elder brother William's success, and the pleasure 
which that brother's letters gave to all around him. 
These feelings made him ashamed of his idleness, and 
inclined him to go to London, and become an assist- 
ant to Dr. William Hunter in his anatomical inquiries. 
William consented to this arrangement; and the 
subject of our memoir quitted his paternal home in 
1748; certainly without that preparation of mind 
which should lead us to expect a very quick profi- 
ciency in medical pursuits. At an earlier age he had 
displayed a turn for mechanics, and a manual dexte- 
rity, which led to his being placed with a cabinet- 
maker in Glasgow to learn the profession : but the 
failure of his master had obliged him to return home. 


Dr. William Hunter had at this time obtained cele- 
brity as a teacher of anatomy. He won his way by very 
intelligible modes. His upright conduct and high 
mental cultivation gained him friends ; and his pro- 
fessional merits were established by his lectures, 
which, in extent and depth, as well as eloquence, 
surpassed any that had yet been delivered. There 
was a peculiar ingenuity in his demonstrations, and 
he had a happy manner exactly suited to his subject. 
The vulgar portion of the public saw no marks of 
genius in the successful exertions of Dr. Hunter ; his 
eminence was easily accounted for, and excited no 
wonder. They saw John Hunter's success, without 
fully comprehending the cause ; and it fell in with 
their notions of great genius that he was somewhat 
abrupt and uncourtly. 

Dr. Hunter immediately set his brother to work 
upon the dissection of the arm. The young man suc- 
ceeded in producing an admirable preparation, in 
which the mechanism of the limb was finely dis- 
played. This at once showed his capacity, and 
settled the relation between the two brothers. John 
Hunter became the best practical anatomist of the 
age, and proved of the greatest use in forming Dr. 
Hunter's splendid museum, bequeathed by the owner 
to the University of Glasgow. He continued to 
attend his brother's lectures ; was a pupil both at 
St. Bartholomew's and St. George's Hospitals ; and 
had the farther advantage of attending the celebrated 
Cheselden, then retired to Chelsea Hospital. And 
here we must point out the advantage which John 
Hunter possessed in the situation and character of 
his elder brother, lest his success should encourage a 
laxity in the studies of those who think they are fol- 
lowing his footsteps. It would indeed have been sur- 
prising that his efforts for the advancement of phy- 
siology commenced at the precise point where Haller's 

2 g2 


stopped, if he had really been ignorant of the state of 
science at home and abroad. But he could not have 
been so, unless he had shut his eyes and stopped his 
ears. In addition to his anatomical collection, Dr. 
Hunter had formed an extensive library, and pos- 
sessed the finest cabinet of coins in Europe. Students 
crowded around him from all countries, and every one 
distinguished in science desired his acquaintance. 
John Hunter lived in this society, and at the same 
time had the advantage of being familiar with the 
complete and systematic course of lectures delivered 
by his brother. He was thus furnished with full 
information as to the actual state of physiology and 
pathology, and knew in what directions to push in- 
quiry, whilst the natural capacity of his fine mind 
was untrammelled. 

In 1755 John Hunter assisted his brother in deli- 
vering a course of lectures ; but through life the task 
of public instruction was a painful one to him, and he 
never attained to fluency and clearness of expression. 
In 1760 his health seems to have been impaired by 
his exertions : and in the recollection that one bro- 
ther had already died under similar circumstances, 
his friends procured him a situation in the army, as 
being less intensely laborious than his mode of life. 
He served as a staff surgeon in Portugal and at the 
siege of Bellisle. On returning to London he recom- 
menced the teaching of practical anatomy. 

In 1767 he was elected a fellow of the Royal So- 
ciety, having already gained the good opinion of its 
members, by several papers on most interesting sub- 
jects. There is this great advantage in the pursuit 
of science in London, that a man remarkable for suc- 
cess in any branch can usually select associates the 
best able to assist him by their experience and ad- 
vice. It was through John Hunter's influence that a 
select club was formed out of the fellows of the Royal 


Society. They met in retirement and read and criti- 
cised each other's papers before submitting them to 
the general body. This club originally consisted of 
Mr. Hunter, Dr. Fordyce, Sir Joseph Banks, Dr. So- 
lander. Dr. Maskelyne, Sir George Shuckburgh, Sir 
Henry Englefield, Sir Charles Blagden, Mr. Rams- 
den, and Mr. Watt. To be the associate of such men 
could not but have a good effect on a mind like Hun- 
ter's, active and vigorous, but deficient in general 
acquirement, and concentrated upon one pursuit. 

At this time, and for many years afterwards, he 
was employed in the most curious physiological in- 
quiries ; and at the same time forming that museum, 
which remains the most surprising proof both of his 
genius and perseverance. It is strange that Sir Eve- 
rard Home should have considered this collection as 
a proof of the patronage Hunter received. He had 
many admirers, and many persons were grateful for 
his professional assistance ; but he had no patrons. 
The extent of his museum is to be attributed solely to 
his perseverance; a quality which is generally the 
companion of genius, and which he displayed in 
every condition of life. Whether under the tuition 
of his brother, or struggling for independence by pri- 
vately teaching anatomy, or amidst the enticements 
to idleness in a mess-room, or as an army surgeon in 
active service, he never seems to have forgotten that 
science which was the chief end of his life. Hence 
the amazing collection which he formed of anatomical 
preparations; hence too the no less extraordinary 
accumulation of important pathological facts, on 
•which his principles were raised. 

It was only towards the close of life that Hunter's 
character was duly appreciated. His professional emo- 
Imnents were small, until a very few years before his 
death, when they amounted to ^£'6000 a-year. When 
this neglect is the portion of a man of distinguished 

2g 3 



merit, it lias sometimes an unhappy influence on his 
profession. Men look for prosperity and splendour 
as the accompanyments of such merit ; and, missing 
it, they turn aside from the worthiest models, to follow 
those who are gaining riches in the common routine 
of practice. Dr. Darwin said that he rejoiced in 
Hunter's late success as the concluding act of a life 
well spent ; as poetical justice. But throughout life 
he spent all his gains in the pursuit of science, and 
died poor. 

His museum was purchased by government for 
£15,000. It was offered to the keeping of the 
College of Physicians, which declined the trust. It 
is now committed to the College of Surgeons, in Lin- 
coln's Inn Fields ; where it is open to the inspection 

[Surgeons' Hall in Lincoln's Inn Fields 


of the public during the afternoons of Monday, 
Wednesday, and Friday. The corporation has en- 
larged the museum, instituted professorships for the 
illustration of it, and is now forming a library. The 
most valuable part of the collection is that in the area 
of the great room, consisting of upwards of 2000 pre- 
parations, which were the results of Mr. Hunter's 
experiments on the inferior animals, and of his re- 
searches in morbid human anatomy. All these were 
originally arranged as illustrative of his lectures. 
The first division alone, in support of his theory of 
inflammation, contains 602 preparations. Those illus- 
trative of specific diseases amount to 1084. There 
are besides 652 dried specimens, consisting of diseased 
bones, joints, and arteries. On the floor there is 
a very fine collection of the skeletons of man and 
other animals ; and if the Council of the College con- 
tinue to augment this collection with the same liberal 
spirit which they have hitherto shown, it will be cre- 
ditable to the nation. The osteological specimens 
amount to 1936. But the most interesting portion, 
we might say one of the most interesting exhibitions 
in Europe to a philosophical and inquiring mind, is 
that which extends along the whole gallery. Mr. 
Hunter found it impossible to explain the functions 
of life by the investigation of human anatomy, unaided 
by comparison with the simpler organization of brutes ; 
and therefore he undertook the amazing labour of 
examining and preparing the simplest animals, gra- 
dually advancing from the lower to the higher, until, 
by this process of synthesis, the structure of the human 
body was demonstrated and explained. Let us take 
one small compartment in order to understand the 
effect of this method. Suppose it is wished to learn 
the importance of the stomach in the animal economy. 
The first object presented to us is a hydatid, an 


animal, as it were, all stomach ; being a simple sac 
with an exterior absorbing surface. Then we have 
the polypus, with a stomach opening by one orifice, 
and with no superadded organ. Next in order is the 
leech, in which we see the beginning of a complexity 
of structure. It possesses the power of locomotion, 
and has brain, and nerves, and muscles, but as yet 
the stomach is simple. Then we advance to creatures 
in which the stomach is complex : we find the simple 
membraneous digesting stomach ; then the stomach 
with a crop attached to macerate and prepare the food 
for digestion ; then a ruminating stomach with a suc- 
cession of cavities, and with the gizzard in some 
animals for grinding the food, and performing the 
oflfice of teeth ; and finally, all the appended organs 
necessary in the various classes of animals ; until we 
find that all the chylopoietic viscera group round this, 
as performing the primary and essential ofiBce of assi- 
milating new matter to the animal body. 

Mr. Hunter's papers and greater works exhibit an 
extraordinary mind : he startles the reader by con- 
clusions, the process by which they were reached 
being scarcely discernible. We attribute this in part 
to that defective education which made him fail in 
explaining his own thoughts, and the course of reason- 
ing by which he had arrived at his conclusions. The 
depth of his reflective powers may be estimated by the 
perusal of his papers on the apparently drowned, and 
on the stomach digested after death by its own fluids. 
The importance of discovering the possibility of such 
an occurrence as the last is manifest, when we con- 
sider its connexion with medical jurisprudence, and 
the probability of its giving rise to unfounded sus- 
picions of poisoning. His most important papers 
were those on the muscularity of arteries; a fine 
piece of experimental reasoning, the neglect of which 


by our continental neighbours threw them back an 
age in the treatment of wounded arteries and aneu- 
risms. But the grand discovery of Mr. Hunter was 
that of the life of the blood. If this idea surprise our 
readers, it did no less surprise the whole of the medical 
profession when it was first promulgated. Yet there 
is no doubt of the fact. It was demonstrated by the 
closest inspection of natural phenomena, and a happy 
suite of experiments, that the coagulation of the blood 
is an act of life. From this one fact, the pathologist 
was enabled to comprehend a great variety of pheno- 
mena, which, without it, must ever have remained 

Mr. Hunter died of that alarming disease, angina 
pectoris : alarming, because it comes in paroxysms, 
accompanied with all the feelings of approaching 
death. These sensations are brought on by exertion 
or excitement. In St. George's Hospital the conduct 
of his colleagues had provoked him ; he made no 
observations, but, retiring into another room, suddenly 
expired October 16, 1193. 

After these details no man will deny that John 
Hunter possessed high genius, and that he employed 
his talents nobly. He was indeed of a family of 
genius : his younger brother was cut off early, but not 
until he had given promise of eminence. Dr. Hunter 
was, in our opinion, equal in talents to John, the 
subject of this memoir, though his mind received 
early a different bias. And in the next generation 
the celebrated Dr. Baillie, nephew to these brothers, 
contributed largely to the improvement of pathology, 
and afforded an instance of the most active benevo- 
lence joined to a plainness of manner most becoming 
in a physician. Joanna Baillie, his sister, still lives, 
honoured and esteemed, and will survive in her works 
as one of our most remarkable female writers. 


A portrait of John Hunter was painted, at tlie sug- 
gestion of the celebrated engraver Sharpe, by Sir 
Joshua Reynolds, and was among his last works. 
There could not indeed be a more picturesque head, 
nor one better suited to the burin. The original pic- 
ture is in the College of Surgeons. It exhibits more 
mildness than we see in the engraving of Sharpe. 


1-ONDON : 

Printed by AVilliam Clowes and Sons, 

Stamfutd Street. 






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